Clemens and McNamee Have Their Say on the Hill
Friday, February 8, 2008
Brian McNamee and Roger Clemens, accuser and accused, spent yesterday within a long fly ball of each other on Capitol Hill, never crossing paths, but telling conflicting versions of the same story and trying to convince lawmakers that only their side was the truth.
While Clemens, the legendary pitcher, was going door-to-door in a series of face-to-face meetings with a dozen House members -- part of his ongoing effort to clear his name following McNamee's allegations that he had used steroids and human growth hormone -- McNamee was being deposed by lawyers from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to whom his lawyers displayed photographs of physical evidence they say will prove Clemens's guilt.
With committee staffers acting as emissaries to ensure there were no confrontations between the two parties, McNamee's attorneys and Clemens and his attorneys held news conferences within one hour and 200 steps of each other on the first floor of the Rayburn House Office Building.
"Instead of this being now a he-said, she-said case," said Richard Emery, one of McNamee's lawyers, "it appears to us that this is corroborative evidence that will determine whether there is appropriate connection between this evidence and steroids and Roger Clemens."
Rusty Hardin, Clemens's lead attorney, cautioned the public and the media not to jump to conclusions, comparing Clemens's case to that of Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape in 2006.
"I can tell you now that in my view, you're about to see the second edition of the Duke case," Hardin said. "I warn you all now -- five, six, seven months from now, any of you who have jumped on this bandwagon about Roger taking steroids and assumed anything Brian McNamee has to say about Roger is true will be embarrassed. This is a fabricated story."
Clemens was previously deposed under oath by committee lawyers on Tuesday. Next Wednesday, both Clemens and McNamee will be on a panel of witnesses during a public hearing of the committee, which will also feature former Clemens teammates Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch and former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk J. Radomski.
McNamee, Clemens's former personal trainer, told both federal investigators and former Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell, who led a 21-month investigation into steroids use in baseball, that he injected Clemens with steroids and HGH at least 16 times between 1998 and 2001. Clemens has repeatedly denied the charges and in December filed a defamation suit against McNamee.
Clemens, sporting a six-button navy blue suit and military buzz cut and carrying a white three-ring binder, spoke only briefly to reporters, once in the morning as he hustled between appointments in the Rayburn, Longworth and Cannon buildings, and again at the news conference staged by his lawyers.
"It was a great day," Clemens said. "Got a lot of walking in and learned a lot about the bowels of the buildings I was in and out of. It was great. We had a lot of great meetings and I look forward to Wednesday of next week."
McNamee's lawyers said yesterday they turned over the physical evidence -- consisting of used syringes and gauze pads allegedly used by McNamee to inject Clemens, and unused vials of steroids, all of which McNamee had kept in a FedEx box in his basement since 2001 -- to federal investigators during a meeting with them last month.
Yesterday during McNamee's deposition, his lawyers showed photographs of that evidence, which were later released to the media. One photo shows a used syringe, white cloths with what appears to be dried blood, and a crumpled Miller Lite beer can, which the lawyers said was full of more used syringes. The other photo shows an assortment of unused vials of drugs. Following the deposition, McNamee was taken to a waiting car, after which his lawyers met with the media and displayed the photos.
According to McNamee's lawyers, the materials shown in the photos are currently undergoing forensic testing; eventually, they said, Clemens could be asked to provide DNA to determine if the blood on the materials is his.
"Roger Clemens," said Earl Ward, another of McNamee's lawyers, "has put himself in the position where his legacy as the greatest pitcher in baseball will depend less on his ERA and more on his DNA."
Pressed about Clemens's willingness to provide DNA samples, Hardin said, "Any time federal authorities make a request, we'll be glad to provide them with whatever they want. But they're going to have to come to us. It's not going to be [offered up based on] McNamee and them, out here with a bunch of pictures of waste."
Clemens's team of lawyers would be expected to challenge the validity of the physical evidence. Clemens has already acknowledged that McNamee injected him several times, but Clemens claimed the injections were only the painkiller lidocaine and vitamin B-12. In addition, even if the evidence shows traces of illegal drugs and Clemens's blood, they would argue the evidence could have been tampered with.
"DNA does provide a link," said Don Catlin, a doping expert and pharmacology professor at UCLA, "but there are other chain of custody issues."
Emery acknowledged the evidence "doesn't have a perfect chain of custody in the criminal sense," but is "perfectly adequate for a prosecution, or certainly to defeat a defamation suit."
With both Clemens and McNamee having now told their stories under oath, one presumably has opened himself up to perjury charges that could carry a prison sentence of up to five years.
"The committee wants, most of all, the truth," Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), one of the committee members visited by Clemens, told reporters. "It's a fair committee."