Clemens talks to Congress
WASHINGTON ” Roger Clemens spoke under oath for about five hours to congressional lawyers Tuesday, then said he told them he did not use performance-enhancing drugs.
“I just want to thank the committee, the staff that I just met with. They were very courteous,” Clemens said after emerging from the offices of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
“It was great to be able to tell them what I’ve been saying all along ” that I’ve never used steroids or growth hormone,” the seven-time Cy Young Award winner said.
Clemens, wearing a pinstriped gray suit instead of a pinstriped New York Yankees uniform, did not take questions from reporters. Carrying a black briefcase and accompanied by two attorneys, Clemens headed to an elevator to exit the Rayburn House Office Building.
Someone down the marble hallway yelled out the pitcher’s nickname, “Rocket!” That drew a quick wave of a hand from Clemens as he stepped into the wood-paneled elevator.
The 45-year-old pitcher ranks eighth in major league history with 354 career wins. He put off retirement yet again in 2007, returning to the Yankees in June and going 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA.
Clemens’ closed-door, sworn testimony on Capitol Hill came one day after his Yankees teammate and workout partner, Andy Pettitte, gave a deposition to committee staff for 2 1/2 hours.
Both players’ interviews are part of preparation for a Feb. 13 hearing, a public session expected to focus on allegations made in the Mitchell Report by trainer Brian McNamee that he injected Clemens more than a dozen times with human growth hormone and steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
“I look forward to being here, I guess in this room, next week,” Clemens said in his 25-second statement after the deposition.
He has chosen various ways to strongly deny what McNamee said, including a taped TV interview, a live news conference and, repeatedly, through his lawyers.
Tuesday’s deposition was the first time Clemens addressed the allegations under oath ” meaning it also was the first time he faced legal risk if he were to make false statements.
This is the same House panel that asked the Justice Department last month to look into whether 2002 AL MVP Miguel Tejada lied when he told committee investigators in 2005 that he never took performance-enhancing drugs and had no knowledge of other players using or talking about steroids. The FBI’s field office in Washington is handling that inquiry.
One of Clemens’ lawyers, Rusty Hardin, had said Monday that the player was “not going to take the Fifth Amendment.”
McNamee is to be interviewed by committee lawyers Thursday.
A former Yankees teammate of Pettitte and Clemens, Chuck Knoblauch, spoke to committee staff Friday. The day before, an employee of the sports agency that represents Clemens and Pettitte was interviewed. Another witness, former New York Mets clubhouse employee Kirk Radomski, is to speak to committee lawyers Feb. 12. Radomski pleaded guilty in April to federal felony charges of distributing steroids and laundering money, and is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.
Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell’s report on drugs in baseball, released in December, contains McNamee’s accusations ” first told to federal prosecutors, then repeated to Mitchell ” that he injected Clemens with HGH and steroids.
Clemens acknowledged he received injections from McNamee, but he said they were for vitamin B-12 and the painkiller lidocaine. His repeated rejection of contents in the Mitchell Report drew Congress’ attention.
When Mitchell testified at a committee hearing Jan. 15, he was asked whether he was still comfortable with McNamee’s credibility.
“We believe that the statements provided to us were truthful,” Mitchell said.
One of McNamee’s lawyers, Earl Ward, said Monday no decision had been made on whether he would submit to a deposition or transcribed interview Thursday. It is a crime to lie to Congress, whether sworn to tell the truth or not, so the distinction between the two has more to do with the format of the questioning and the confidentiality of the transcript.
McNamee also told Mitchell he injected Pettitte with HGH. Pettitte lent credence to Mitchell’s findings by acknowledging two days after the report was released that he did try HGH for two days in 2002 to help deal with an elbow injury.
Associated Press Writer Sarah Karush contributed to this report.