When a Congressional committee summoned Roger Clemens to testify at a nationally televised hearing in February 2008, it was trying to determine the accuracy of George J. Mitchell’s report, which had named Clemens as a user of steroids and human growth hormone.
According to a high-profile lawyer in Washington, the release of the Mitchell report at the behest of Commissioner Bud Selig and not Congress raises questions about why the committee was investigating the matter in the first place. And that, according to the lawyer, Reginald J. Brown, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and an associate White House general counsel from 2003 to 2005, has given Clemens’s lawyers a strong argument to have the government’s perjury case dismissed.
“The case against Clemens is not a slam dunk for the government,” he said Friday in a telephone interview. He said that perjury charges could only be brought in connection with investigations conducted as part of those Congressional responsibilities outlined in the Constitution.
“Congress didn’t do this investigation to determine whether they needed new drug laws,” Brown said. “They didn’t do it to determine whether federal agencies were exercising their proper oversight. They did this to figure out whether Clemens or his trainer were telling the truth, and that is arguably not a legislative function. It’s not Congress’s job to hold perjury trials.”
Brown said the argument had been used successfully before to have perjury charges dismissed.