Roger Clemens said. “Let me be clear: I have never taken steroids or HGH.”
Brian McNamee: “Make no mistake: I injected steroids into the body of Roger Clemens. I was telling the truth.”
Fortunately for you wage donkeys, I was able to spend this morning watching the Clemens hearing. Here’s a few impressions.
The people who believe that Brian McNamee is telling the truth seem to have annointed Andy Pettitte as the key to any resolution of the “who’s lying?” question. Pettitte admittedly appears to be a formidable obstacle to Clemens ever clearing his name.
Pettitte, like Clemens, was implicated by McNamee. Unlike Clemens, Pettitte confirmed McNamee’s account of events soon after the Mitchell Report was leaked. Since that time, Pettitte has provided the Congressional committee a deposition and an affidavit confirming the facts alleged in the Mitchell Report. In his affidavit, Pettitte also informed the committee that in addition to the two HGH shots McNamee had administered in 2002, “he also took HGH for a one-day period in 2004, shortly preceding season-ending elbow surgery.” That dose had been provided by his father. In his deposition, Pettite’s states that “I have to tell you all the truth and one day I have to give an account to God and not to nobody else what I’ve done in my life.’
Pettitte’s confirmation of McNamee’s relationship with him means that McNamee is not entirely untruthful. Unfortunately for Clemens, Pettitte’s deposition and affidavit goes further. In them, Pettitte swore that in “1999 or 2000” Clemens told Pettitte that he used HGH. He also swore that five years later, in 2005, Clemens retracted this statement, stating that Pettitte must have misheard Clemens say that his wife had taken HGH. Pettitte’s affidavit is backed up by the affidavit of his wife, which swears that Pettitte told her of these conversations immediately after they occurred.
Clemens only response to Pettite’s claims: “I think he misremembers of our conversation.” At no point does Clemens get angry with Pettitte or call him a liar. In fact, he stated that he thinks Pettitte is pretty good person.
Congressman Elijah Cummings
Elijah E. Cummings (D-Maryland) stood out among his peers. He started the hearing off with bang by repeatedly asking Clemens if he understood that he was under oath. Every question started off with, a line similar to, “now, Mr. Clemens, I want to remind you that…”
During the entire hearing, Cummings is really the only Congressman who repeatedly questioned Clemens on why McNamee would be telling the truth about Pettitte and Knoblauch but make up the testimony about him. Throughout his two five minute periods Cummings hammered home his impression of Pettitte’s truthiness and sought to find an answer to this question. “Congressman, I have no idea,” was Clemen’s response, among other ramblings about Pettitte being his very, very good friend who never hid anything from him (except Pettitte’s HGH use, which Clemens apparently never knew of).
Close to the end of the hearing, Congressman Cummings summed up many people’s feelings about Clemens: “It’s hard to believe you, sir,” Cummings told Clemens. “You’re one of my heroes. But it’s hard to believe you.”
This was the first time that I had ever seen Brian McNamee. I had listened to the taped phone call between him and Clemens. I talked about the impression that call left about McNamee here.
After watching him today, I’ll say that he is definitely not someone that the government will want to hang a perjury case against Clemens on. While I do believe McNamee’s version of events over that of Clemens, McNamee does have significant credibility issues. In addition to “other lies” which were never detailed at the hearing, McNamee’s testimony in this case has two significant credibility issues: the fluctuating number of injections which he alleges he gave Clemens and Chuck Knoblauch and his withholding of the physical evidence.
McNamee says that his past lies were “part recollection [problems] and part not to hurt these players.” When all is said and done, I really do believe that Brian McNamee is not happy that he found himself in a position where he had to rat out Clemens, Pettitte and Knoblauch. I don’t know the details of their relationships. I don’t know if their relationship was that of friends or of an employee-employer. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Regardless, I believe McNamee has done what he can throughout this process to make sure that he does not get in trouble with the feds, but at the same time providing only so much evidence as he had to. I just don’t get the impression that he out to burn Clemens.
Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) clearly doesn’t share my views. He went the hardest of anyone after McNamee. Burton can’t seem to comprehend why McNamee would “keep the needles and gauze pads? You do this to all your employers?” Burton continued, “Roger Clemens is a titan in baseball…with all these lies, you’re destroying his reputation.” Burton ended his diatribe with an admonition of McNamee “This is really disgusting. You are here as a sworn witness, and yet we have lie after lie after lie! I don’t know what to believe. I know one thing I don’t believe — and that’s you!”
Canseco’s House Party and Nannygate
The craziest, stupidest and most inane part of the hearing involved a party hosted by Jose Canseco for his Toronto Blue Jay teammates. Did I mention that this party occurred in 1998, may or may not have had Clemens’ present and may or may not have involved Clemens discussing steroids with Jose Canseco? The Canseco party was a minor detail in the Mitchell Report. No drugs were injected at the party. But Conseco has submitted an affidavit in which he specifically recalls that Clemens was not there. To some Congressmen, Jose Canseco’s affidavit called into question all of McNamee’s testimony.
Clemens even conveniently has a golf receipt from that day which resulted in an asinine five minute interrogation of how long it takes Clemens to play a round of golf and the drive to Canseco’s house.
McNamee said he has two specific memories of the ten-year gone party. One was of Clemens’ nanny in a bikini caring for Clemens’ kid. The other was saying hello to Clemens and his wife. Yeah, that’s what they focussed on. Whether Clemens and McNamee said hello one time ten years ago.
This is where Chairman Waxman began to turn the screws on Clemens and his team of lawyers. Apparently, after receiving McNamee’s deposition, the Committee wanted to contact Clemens’ bikini clad nanny. He contacted team Clemens on Thursday. It took until Monday for team Clemens to respond. Why? Because Clemens and his team spent the weekend interviewing the nanny, whom Clemens hadn’t seen in six years. To Waxman, “it sure raises an appearance of impropriety. The right way to handle this would have been to give the committee and certainly for you not to talk to her personally about the interview as you did. You chose, I think, the worst approach. You invited her to your home and had a specific conversation about whether you were at Mr. Canseco’s house.” Clemens lawyers were pretty agitated at the suggestion.
Clemens response: “I was doin’ y’all a favor.”
The nanny? Yeah, she told the committee that Clemens, his wife and kids were at Canseco’s house that weekend.
The hearing took a short break and when it resumed, after some gentle questioning by Congressman Davis, Clemens conceded that it was quite possible that he did stop by Canseco’s house during the party to drop off his family.
Clemens’ wife admits to using HGH. And we’re supposed to believe that Roger Clemens didn’t?
I don’t want to overemphasize this fact. Clemens’ wife’s use of HGH does not mean that Roger Clemens used it. But it sure is weird. According to Clemens’ testimony, during a week in 2003 when McNamee was staying at Clemens’ house, Debbie Clemens read an article about HGH and asked McNamee about it. Fortuitously, he just happened to have a vial of HGH with him in his suitcase. You know, even though Roger Clemens had never used HGH before that, McNamee had the foresight to throw a vial of HGH into his suitcase just in case Roger decided to juice up. Or, just in case Debbie Clemens happens to read an article on HGH that week, she might want to use it. Heck, might as well pack the steroid laced doggy treats just in case the Clemens’ pet beagle is looking for a boost.
Those facts are bad enough for Clemens in my opinion. But it gets worse, if only mildly. Supposedly, Brian McNamee injected Debbie Clemens in her bedroom without Roger’s knowledge. This injection caused Debbie Clemens to feel unwell and Roger Clemens to have a very heated conversation with Brian McNamee after he left. Ultimately, Clemens is unable to explain why he did not call a doctor after his wife was injected with HGH and was having circulatory problems that were “not serious.”
I’m not saying that Clemens description of this series of events is implausible. It just seems that combined with all of the other evidence, it just seems less likely than Brian McNamee’s version of events.
The Hearing Concludes
WAXMAN: “This is what I think we’ve learned: Chuck Knoblauch and Andy Pettitte confirmed what Brian McNamee told Senator Mitchell. We learned of conversations Andy Pettitte believed he had with Roger Clemens about HGH and even though Mr. Clemens says his relationship with Mr. Pettitte was so close that they would know and share information with each other. Evidently, Mr. Pettitte didn’t believe what Mr. Clemens said in that 2005 conversation.”
CLEMENS: “Doesn’t mean that he was not mistaken, sir.”
WAXMAN: “Doesn’t mean that.”
CLEMENS: “It does not mean that he was not mistaken, Sir.”
WAXMAN (gaveling down Clemens): “Excuse me, but this is not your time to argue with me.”
WAXMAN continued, addressing McNamee, “You have taken a lot of hits today,” Waxman told McNamee. “In my view, some were fair and some were really unwarranted.”