WASHINGTON (AP) — Attacking key prosecution evidence, Roger Clemens’ lawyer went through the items in a Miller Lite beer can one at a time and tried to cast doubt on the syringes and medical waste allegedly used to inject the famous pitcher with performance-enhancing drugs.
Attorney Rusty Hardin expressed shock when Clemens’s chief accuser Brian McNamee acknowledged that some of the items in the can had been used to inject other players. McNamee, Clemens’ longtime strength coach, had testified he collected the materials after injecting Clemens with steroids.
“Haven’t you testified that everything in the beer can was for Roger?” Hardin asked. “Isn’t this a classic example of you making up this stuff on the fly?”
Although Hardin expressed shock that some items in the beer can were not used on Clemens, McNamee told congressional investigators the same thing in 2008, prior to the U.S. House committee hearing in which he and Clemens testified.
The 11-time All-Star pitcher is charged with perjury for telling Congress that he never used steroids or human growth hormone.
Hardin demanded to know how materials from other players “flew” into the beer can. When prosecutors objected, the lawyer said, “Well, how did they get in there?”
“I put them in the can that night” after injecting Clemens, McNamee said.
When Hardin asked if McNamee ever told government investigators that he put the other players’ material in the beer can that night, McNamee said not specifically “that night. It’s never been asked that way before.”
McNamee is the only witness who will claim firsthand knowledge of Clemens using performance-enhancing drugs, and he never wavered from that central accusation during Hardin’s cross-examination.
McNamee endured a fifth day Friday of questioning. He’s now spent some 24 hours in the swivel chair between jury and judge.
McNamee will return to the stand Monday in a trial moving so slowly that U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton — for the first time in more than 30 years as a judge — imposed time limits to speed things up: Only 90 minutes per side for witnesses after McNamee and closing arguments limited to two hours apiece.
“I just can’t let this case meander on forever,” the judge said.
The trial was supposed to last four to six weeks, but it’s just wrapping up its fifth week — and the government said Friday it still has nine witnesses to call, down from the 14 it estimated the previous day. If the trial isn’t done by June 8, Walton said he may have to call a recess for about a month because of various scheduling conflicts.
“And then we’ll have some real unhappy jurors,” Walton said.
Clemens’ attorney Hardin spent three-plus days of cross-examination portraying McNamee as a chronic liar who frequently changes his story. Toward the end, Hardin raised numerous unsavory personal details: McNamee tampered with a dead body when he was a New York City policeman, he lied to investigators looking into a Florida incident in 2001, he had two driving-under-the-influence arrests in 2002, he got caught up in an Internet fraud investigation after ordering diet pills over the Web in 2004.
“Would you agree that you had a severe drinking problem?” was among the many accusatory questions from Hardin. McNamee answered “No, sir” to that one.
Even though McNamee never backed down from his core testimony that he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs from 1998 to 2001, prosecutors have their work cut out for them as they try to rebuild their key witness in front of the jury. The judge said he would allow only 90 minutes of follow-up questioning from prosecutors, and they used up 20 minutes of that allotment before court adjourned for the weekend.
To bolster McNamee’s credibility, the government hopes to win an argument to include previously barred evidence that shows McNamee supplied drugs to other players who have since acknowledged that they were users. Hardin claimed that would open up a “bunch of mini-trials” over each player associated with McNamee and could extend the trial for months.
The judge said he will rule on the matter Monday morning.
Late Friday afternoon, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and its chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, filed a motion to quash Clemens’ subpoenas for Issa’s testimony and committee documents. That committee held the hearing that Clemens testified before in 2008; Issa, a California Republican, was not chairman at the time.
The motion argues that the subpoenas are barred by the Constitution’s speech or debate clause, which protects elected officials from being questioned in a lawsuit about their legislative work.
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