Clemens: Did he or didn't he?

Congress doggedly investigates the most important issue of the day. No, just kidding.


Amanda Silverman
February 14, 2008 5:33AM (UTC)

When the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform met Wednesday for the second day of its hearings regarding the illegal use of steroids in Major League Baseball, it seemed that by the end of the day, there would be some clarity on Roger Clemens' alleged use of steroids. Instead, the game of "he said, she said" continued to go 'round and 'round as Congress continued to earn the high esteem in which Americans hold it.

In December's Mitchell Report on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, trainer Brian McNamee claimed to have witnessed and participated in the use of such drugs by three players, including Andy Pettitte, who has already admitted to using HGH, and Roger Clemens, who has denied the accusations. That put Clemens in the hot seat Wednesday.

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For hours, committee members questioned and even attacked the credibility of both McNamee and Clemens, making both of them nervous at times. Ultimately, however, both stayed committed to their positions.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., kept reminding Clemens that he was under oath and asking if he "understood that." As those reminders kept coming, several, if not all, of the journalists watching from the overflow press room in the House building giggled.

Several other apparent discrepancies in the witness testimonies were raised by committee members. For instance, Clemens claimed that he had never had a discussion with McNamee about human growth hormones -- a claim that caused a look of literal wide-eyed disbelief from McNamee. However, when asked about such substances in relation to his family, he wrote in his deposition an anecdote in which McNamee allegedly administered HGH to Clemens' wife without his knowledge. Clemens claims that after he found out about that alleged incident, he angrily called McNamee to talk about it.

Pettitte, Clemens' close friend, has previously said that Clemens did in fact use HGH. But about Pettitte, whom Clemens referred to as a "very honest fella," Clemens would only say that Pettitte must have "misremembered" their conversation.

As if this wasn't enough, what really made Clemens squirm was the discussion about his former nanny, a key witness in determining if Clemens attended a party at Jose Canseco's (another claim made by McNamee that has been refuted by Clemens). Committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., asserted that Clemens' lawyers dallied in getting the nanny's contact information to the committee, and that just before finally handing the information over on Monday, Clemens -- who hadn't seem the nanny in years -- called her Sunday to invite her to his home. Waxman admitted to being "puzzled" by this action, and asked if it was Clemens' idea. The ensuing silence was saved only by Clemens' lawyers, who claimed it was their idea, and finally Clemens chimed in that he thought he was doing the committee a "favor." This only ignited more laughter and head shaking in the press room. "The impression [Clemens' action] leaves is terrible," Waxman told the pitcher.

McNamee didn't leave unscathed either. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., called McNamee a drug dealer several times, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told him, "You just don't seem to be believable," as he has several times changed the number of times he claims Clemens used HGH. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind. -- a man best known for his backyard "re-creation" of Vince Foster's death -- grilled McNamee regarding his initial failure to cooperate with federal investigators. Burton asked McNamee if he was lying about everything, or "just when it's convenient." Burton also said to McNamee, "I know one thing I don't believe and that's you."

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Amanda Silverman

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