Brian McNamee, the government’s chief witness on Roger Clemens’s alleged drug use, repeatedly changed his story to fit the one federal investigators were putting together, Rusty Hardin, a lawyer for the ex-New York Yankees pitcher, suggested to jurors.
Hardin, questioning McNamee for a third day in Clemens’s perjury trial in Washington, bore into areas where McNamee revised what he told prosecutors and Congress after his first meeting with investigators in June 2007. McNamee, 45, Clemens’s former trainer, admitted that at first he lied about how many injections he had given and later raised the number.
“They’re deciding what the truth was, wasn’t it?” Hardin asked.
“That’s not accurate,” McNamee responded.
“If you continued to tell them Roger Clemens never used steroids what would happen to you?” Hardin said. “What do you think would happen to you?”
“They had the opportunity to lock me up for lying,” McNamee said.
McNamee, who has been on the witness stand since May 14, is the government’s only eyewitness to Clemens’s alleged drug use. He testified that he gave Clemens injections of steroids and human growth hormone, or HGH, during the 1998, 2000 and 2001 baseball seasons while both worked for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Yankees.
Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is charged with one count of obstructing a congressional investigation, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury stemming from his testimony to a House panel investigating the use of steroids in Major League Baseball. He faces as long as 21 months in prison if convicted.
Clemens has denied having used drugs since former Senator George Mitchell, acting as a special investigator for Major League Baseball, released a report on steroid use among professional ballplayers on Dec. 13, 2007. Mitchell concluded Clemens used drugs on at least 16 occasions from 1998 to 2001.
Throughout the cross-examination, McNamee admitted to lying about or “exaggerating,” “minimizing” and “embellishing” information given to federal investigators, the Mitchell Commission and lawyers and agents for Clemens.
“I never lied about the usage, just the amounts,” McNamee said.
McNamee said he lied twice when asked by federal investigators and then the Mitchell Commission whether he had any physical evidence in his possession.
“Can you and I agree that by Dec 31, 2007, you had lied to various members of the Mitchell Commission and federal agents and not one blankety-blank thing happened to you?” Hardin asked. “Is that true?”
“Yes, that’s fair,” McNamee said.
McNamee remained defiant, refusing to be pinned down to specific dates -- or even years -- by ending several answers with “give or take.” Hardin sometimes asked some questions two to three times before getting an answer. He responded to some questions with his own question.
“Did you tell Mr. Clemens you were talking to government?” Hardin asked.
“He didn’t ask so I didn’t answer,” McNamee said.
“How could he ask if he didn’t know?” Hardin said.
“How could I answer a question that he never asked?” McNamee said.
During one break today, the jury asked U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton how much longer the trial would last. Walton then chastised Hardin for moving too slow.
“When you bore the jurors someone pays the price,” Walton said. “I’m not sure who that will be.”
Walton already removed two jurors for sleeping during the proceedings. Hardin said he plans to finish questioning McNamee tomorrow.
Hardin is seeking to show that McNamee constantly changed his story about Clemens and can’t be believed. Yesterday he put up an easel with a flip chart in the courtroom and wrote “mistakes,” “bad memory” and “lies” on it. He said those were the three categories he planned to talk about with McNamee.
The easel bearing those words stayed next to McNamee for most of today’s testimony.
Clemens, 49, who pitched for the Yankees, Blue Jays, Astros and Boston Red Sox during a 24-year career, used the anabolic steroids and HGH to remain competitive as he aged, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham said in his opening statement as the trial began on April 23.
The government’s case includes a needle and cotton with Clemens’s DNA that tested positive for anabolic steroids, Durham said.
The material was given to the government by McNamee, who said he saved needles, gauze and an ampoule from one of the injections in 2001. He told jurors he kept some of the items in a Miller Lite beer can that he took from the recycling bin in Clemens’s apartment.
McNamee appeared to get tripped up during questioning over previous explanations he’d given as to why he kept the material. Two days ago, he’d told jurors he kept the material to appease his wife, who he said knew that he was injecting Clemens with performance enhancing drugs.
“I was just trying to keep my wife, the mother of my children, out of this,” McNamee said. “Now she’s involved and now she has to take responsibility for her actions.”
“What do you mean?” Hardin asked.
McNamee said after he told investigators about the evidence, the government came to his home, took pictures, and that his wife had to turn over her DNA.
“What actions does your wife have to take responsibility for?” Hardin asked.
“She handled the evidence,” McNamee said.
“Why did you say she had her DNA taken?” Hardin asked.
“I don’t know,” McNamee said. He then said he wasn’t sure what he’d just said was true and that he and his wife no longer speak. “That was three seconds ago. I apologize to the jury.”
The case is U.S. v. Clemens, 1:10-cr-00223, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).