Rocket’s DC launch delayed until Feb.
By: By HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Everyone is getting some extra time to prepare for Roger Clemens’ appearance on Capitol Hill.
That includes Clemens, of course, along with his teammate, workout partner and friend Andy Pettitte, and their former trainer Brian McNamee.
And Congress itself.
The House hearing involving Clemens, Pettitte and McNamee was postponed Wednesday from Jan. 16 until Feb. 13, allowing lawmakers to take depositions from the witnesses, gather other evidence and coordinate their investigation with the Justice Department.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was to begin meeting with lawyers for the witnesses Thursday. Clemens’ attorney, Rusty Hardin, said he hopes to meet with committee staffers next week. In addition, McNamee was to meet with federal prosecutors Thursday in New York.
“Roger hasn’t done anything,” Hardin said. “The federal government looking at Roger is fine with me.”
Plans are still in place for the committee’s Jan. 15 hearing with commissioner Bud Selig, union leader Donald Fehr and former Senate majority leader George Mitchell, whose report on steroids in baseball contained McNamee’s allegations that he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs.
Questioned by federal prosecutors last year, McNamee said he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone in 1998, 2000 and 2001. Prosecutors had him repeat those charges to Mitchell, and since the report was issued last month, Clemens has repeatedly and vehemently denied them.
A lawyer for McNamee said Wednesday his client wants immunity from the House committee. Hardin said Clemens will not request immunity.
McNamee will meet with the BALCO prosecutors who are in the area for former track star Marion Jones’ sentencing today. Jones pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about steroid use and a check-fraud scheme.
“They want to talk to him while they’re in town,” said Earl Ward, McNamee’s primary lawyer.
Does this mean prosecutors are now turning their attention to Clemens?
“Nothing like that,” Ward said. “They just wanted grab a cup coffee, that’s all. It’s just an informal, quick meeting.”
Congress first set up the hearing with Selig, Fehr and Mitchell. Then, last week, seven-time Cy Young Award winner Clemens, Pettitte and McNamee were asked to testify under oath. Also invited were former Yankees player Chuck Knoblauch and Kirk Radomski, the former New York Mets clubhouse attendant who was one of the main sources of evidence for the Mitchell Report.
Radomski pleaded guilty in April to federal felony charges of distributing steroids and laundering money, and he is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 8.
“The Justice Department told the committee it would be helpful if we waited until after Radomski is sentenced,” the committee’s minority staff director, David Marin, wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “This also gives us more time to delve into more recent developments, gather more information, and depose all witnesses before they testify in public.”
This is the same House panel, led by California Democrat Henry Waxman and Virginia Republican Tom Davis, that brought sluggers Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro to Capitol Hill in March 2005. No depositions were taken before that hearing.
Plenty has happened since last Friday, when the committee called for the Clemens-Pettitte-McNamee hearing.
Clemens, eighth in major league history with 354 wins, filed a defamation lawsuit Sunday against McNamee. Also Sunday, a TV interview with Clemens aired in which he said McNamee injected him only with vitamin B-12 and the painkiller lidocaine. The pitcher then held a news conference Monday, when he said, “I’m going to Congress, and I’m going to tell the truth,” and played a recording of a 17-minute telephone conversation with McNamee that Clemens’ side secretly taped.
That tape could be among the items requested — and subpoenaed, if not delivered — by the committee.
“We are considering requests for information from all relevant sources,” said Karen Lightfoot, communications director for committee chairman Waxman.
McNamee’s attorneys have urged the committee to obtain a recording of a conversation between his client and investigators who work for Clemens’ law firm. That meeting took place Dec. 12, a day before the Mitchell Report was released.
Pettitte acknowledged McNamee injected him twice with HGH. Radomski is alleged to have supplied McNamee with performance-enhancing drugs.
If the witnesses are allowed to see others’ depositions, that could create an advantage for those testifying later in the process.
Hardin said: “The one thing I want to make certain is, is that we don’t educate McNamee as to which story to tell these days.”
Before speaking to federal investigators and Mitchell, McNamee reached an agreement in which he would not be prosecuted as long as he was truthful. His lawyers will seek a similar agreement with the committee, McNamee lawyer Richard Emery said.
Marin declined to comment when asked about the possibility of immunity for congressional testimony. Before the committee’s 2005 hearing, Jose Canseco — whose book about steroids in baseball drew congressional scrutiny — requested immunity but was turned down.
The 45-year-old Clemens put off retirement yet again in 2007, returning to the Yankees in June and going 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA. The right-hander hasn’t said whether he will pitch in the majors in 2008.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.