WASHINGTON – Congressmen blistered Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee on Wednesday with pointed questions about their credibility, their relationship and, most of all, their differing stories on Clemens' alleged performance-enhancing drug use.
Throughout a terse 4-hour, 41-minute morning session in front of the Committee on Government and Oversight Reform, Democrats honed in on inconsistencies in Clemens' statements, Republicans focused on troubles with McNamee's testimony, and both sides pored over questions about a "palpable mass" on Clemens' backside, the former nanny to Clemens' children and the testimony of Clemens' friend and former teammate Andy Pettitte.
From the day's opening salvo, when committee chairman Henry Waxman said Clemens "made statements that we know are untrue," to Rep. Dan Burton's attack on McNamee, saying he told "lie after lie after lie after lie," both sides took haymakers. And the hearing ended with Waxman chiding Clemens for interrupting his closing comments.
CLEMENS AND STEROIDS
• Jonathan Littman: McNamee's puny credibility good for Clemens (Feb. 13, 2008)
• Jeff Passan: Clemens, McNamee takes hits in hearing (Feb. 13, 2008)
• Dan Wetzel: Clemens shelled by Congress (Feb. 13, 2008)
• Jeff Passan: Hearings: Untruth and consequences (Feb. 12, 2008)
• Steve Henson: Clemens drama worthy of "Sopranos" (Feb. 11, 2008)
• Dan Wetzel: Innocent or stupid (Feb. 11, 2008)
• Jonathan Littman: Clemens-McNamee duel has BALCO roots (Jan. 8, 2008)
• Tim Brown: Telephone tap dance is unpersuasive (Jan. 7, 2008)
• Tim Brown: Clemens drowns in hopelessness (Jan. 6, 2008)
• Jeff Passan: Clemens to testify under oath (Jan. 4, 2008)
• Tim Brown: Who to believe (Jan. 3, 2008)
• Dan Wetzel: Denials by proxy make Clemens look worse (Dec. 18, 2008)
• Dan Wetzel: Clemens is no different than Bonds (Dec. 13, 2008)
Waxman was one of Clemens' fiercest critics, fueled perhaps by Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, with whom he traded barbs leading up to the hearings. Originally, they were supposed to focus on Sen. George Mitchell's report in which Clemens was accused by McNamee of using steroids and human growth hormone.
What came of them was nothing of the sort. And at least six FBI agents and IRS agent Jeff Novitzky were in attendance, gauging whether perjury was committed by either side.
Waxman (D-Calif.) began the hearings by saying Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, both former teammates of Clemens, confirmed McNamee's testimony to Mitchell's investigators that they had used human growth hormone. In his sworn deposition, Pettitte said Clemens had told him that he used HGH in 1999 or 2000, but in 2005 changed his story and said that his wife, Debbie, had used it.
"I said, 'Oh, OK,' or words to that effect," Pettitte said, "not because I agreed but because I wasn't going to argue with him."
Both Clemens and McNamee said Debbie Clemens was injected in 2003, and Waxman wondered how Clemens referred in 1999 or 2000 to an incident that happened years later.
Pettitte's wife, Laura, confirmed the conversations in a deposition to Congress.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who led off the questioning of Clemens with a barrage, continued to harp on why Pettitte would lie about his talks with Clemens.
Clemens said he believes Pettitte "misremembers" their conversations.
"No matter what we discuss here today," Clemens said in his opening statement, "I am never going to have my name restored."
Throughout the day, Clemens denied using performance-enhancing drugs, delivering an opening statement with vehement refutations and answering questions just the same. As more allegations emerged, though, Clemens found himself under increasing fire.
McNamee in his deposition claimed that Clemens used to travel with Band-Aids after bleeding through his pants from his backside. The blood, McNamee said, was from a shot of performance-enhancing drugs. Later, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) spent more than 10 minutes questioning Clemens about an abscess on his behind, the "palpable mass" Clemens said came from a shot of Vitamin B-12.
Lynch said a doctor to whom he showed an MRI of the abscess said it was likelier that it came from stanozolol, a steroid, than B-12.
Hardin and Lanny Breuer, another attorney, stood up and tried to interject before being told to sit down by Waxman.
Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), the ranking minority member, called the questioning "a Lynching." He and Waxman briefly argued.
Back and forth the Democrats and Republicans went on another issue, a party at Jose Canseco's house referred to in the Mitchell Report. McNamee claimed Clemens had attended the party. Clemens said he had not, multiple attendees said they did not see him there and Clemens provided the committee with a receipt for a round of golf that morning.
McNamee's credibility came into question until Waxman began asking Clemens about his children's former nanny. McNamee had said he remembered seeing the nanny parading around the party in a peach-colored bikini, and when contacted, she claimed that she and Clemens' family had been at the party – and then stayed at Canseco's house that night.
Canseco, however, said in an affidavit that Clemens had not been at the party.
"We stand by our report," said Charlie Scheeler, the lead investigator to the Mitchell Report.
Furthermore, the committee questioned why Clemens had the nanny – whom he hadn't seen since 2001 – over to his house Sunday, two days after the committee had requested to talk to her but before Clemens turned over her contact information.
Congressmen attacked McNamee for withholding information from federal investigators the first time he spoke with them – McNamee did not turn over bloody gauze and syringes that he said he used to inject performance-enhancing drugs into Clemens – as well as amending his claims in former Sen. George Mitchell's report on steroids by saying that "I now believe that the number of times I injected Roger Clemens and Chuck Knoblauch was actually greater than I initially stated."
"I don't know what to believe," said Burton, a Republican from Indiana. "I know one thing I don't believe, and that's you."
Asked why he should be believed, McNamee said: "None of those people were injecting Roger Clemens with illegal steroids in his butt."
Nevertheless, Clemens continued to take the tack that he has since the Mitchell Report's release Dec. 13: consistently defiant.
"Today we'll let the American people judge who's to be believed in this unfortunate battle of wills, memories and reputations," Davis said. " … Someone is lying in spectacular fashion about the ultimate question."
- Brian McNamee