Clemens has only himself to blame for Congressional investigation

Tamara Holder Contributor
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Allegations that you were once a steroid-using cheat must be very painful, especially if you are innocent. But to challenge the veracity of a Congressional report of which you were not the intended target is plain foolish. It is even more idiotic to ask Congress and the Feds to narrow their bullseye onto just you.

As Chris Rock once said, “You want to look innocent in jail? I’d rather look guilty at the mall.”

But Roger Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, apparently doesn’t agree. In 2008, he chose to voluntarily testify before a Congressional committee, under oath, that his former trainer lied in a Congressional report.

“And, like I have stated in the press conferences and when I first came out to make my statements when I heard about these allegations, basically it pertains to what Brian McNamee is saying about me. It is false. I have not used steroids or growth hormone.”

The Congressional committee, however, didn’t believe Mr. Clemens; so, the Department of Justice intervened and performed its own investigation. As a result, he was charged with six federal crimes: three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of Congress.

Some believe that Mr. Clemens’ indictment is a waste of time and that the Feds should spend taxpayers’ money on more serious issues.

Congressman John Campbell (R-CA) said, “Why is Congress spending time on baseball? We have a deficit that is now heading back up over $400 billion. We have unsustainable programs in Social Security and Medicare. We have no control over our immigration policies and radical terrorists around the world who want to kill us.”

Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) agreed.

“The FBI should focus on the real threats facing our communities, such as terrorism and violent crime. Whether or not Roger Clemens may have committed perjury should not compete with real national security threats for the FBI’s time, attention and resources.”

This argument is flawed. Just because the Feds should have something better to do, like spend taxpayers’ money on a manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, that doesn’t excuse one’s lies, under oath, to Congress.

There is also the flawed argument that since the use of performance-enhancing drugs was not banned until 2004, previous players, like Clemens, should not be investigated and Congress had no place to intervene. Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig made a similar argument after players were subpoenaed by Congress in 2005. He said the subpoenas were “an absolutely excessive and unprecedented misuse of Congressional power,” even though he previously agreed to have Congress investigate the use of steroids in Major League Baseball.

That investigation resulted in the “Mitchell Report,” which was released on December 13, 2005, by Senator George Mitchell. The report stated, among other things, that Brian McNamee injected Roger Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs approximately 20 times.

According to Chairman Henry Waxman, a hearing was scheduled with Senator Mitchell, Commissioner Selig, and Don Fehr the day the report was released and, “We intended for that hearing to close the chapter on looking at baseball’s past.

Even though the investigation was not about Mr. Clemens, but instead about general steroid use in baseball, he still drew his guns and publicly responded to the report, through his attorney, Rusty Hardin, calling it a “horrible, disgraceful report.”

His response essentially called “bluff” on a Senator-led Congressional investigation and asked Congress to point its arrows directly at him:

“We have no interest in making baseball a central part of our Committee’s agenda. But if the Mitchell report is to be the last word on baseball’s past, we believed we had a responsibility to investigate a serious claim of inaccuracy. The Committee’s inquiry and this hearing are focused on the accuracy of the Mitchell report as it relates to information provided by Brian McNamee.”

Since Senator Mitchell did not have subpoena power, Congress used its subpoena power to gather even more information than what was written in Mitchell’s report with one specific focus: the truthfulness of McNamee’s statements as they were related to just three baseball players, one being Roger Clemens.

And away went the busy bees in Congress, gathering even more evidence, in an effort to solidify the Mitchell Report. For example, the report stated that Mr. McNamee admitted he injected Chuck Knoblaugh with Human Growth Hormone. Congress then subpoenaed Mr. Knoblaugh who corroborated Mr. McNamee’s statements. The report also stated Mr. McNamee said he injected Andy Pettitte with HGH. Again, Congress backed up the Mitchell report: it subpoenaed Mr. Pettitte who again corroborated Mr. McNamee and admitted to his use of HGH.

Next up, the third and final former-player: Roger Clemens.

On February 5, 2008, Clemens agreed to a voluntary deposition before the Congressional committee. He did not have to speak to Congress, even after all of his public denials; and, he could have invoked his Fifth Amendment Right Against Self-Incrimination when asked specific questions.

Clemens can forget about the “I didn’t understand the question” defense in federal court. Before the deposition started, Phil Barnett, Majority Staff Director, and Mr. Clemens spoke on the record:

Mr. Barnett: Because you have been placed under oath, your testimony here has the same force and effect as if we are actually out in the open committee hearing. If you knowingly provide false testimony, you could be subject to criminal prosecution for perjury, false statements, and other offenses. Do you understand this?
Mr. Clemens. I do.
Mr. Barnett. Is there any reason you are unable to provide truthful answers in today’s deposition?
Mr. Clemens. No.

Mr. Clemens concluded his deposition by saying, “And another reason why I retained these two gentlemen to my left is because Brian McNamee is not going to write a book telling how he brought the best pitcher down and all his lies for $1 million so you can write off after he’s sold his soul or name out.”

Mr. Clemens, you now have a lot more to worry about than your former trainer’s book deal.

Tamara N. Holder is one of the nation’s rising attorneys and legal analytical stars.  She is a Contributor for the Fox News Channel.  She has received recognition from some of the country’s most respected people, organizations and publications.  Tamara founded The Law Firm of Tamara N. Holder, LLC in 2005.  Her work includes: criminal defense, expungement, race discrimination, police brutality, public policy, and pro bono practices.  Seeing the need for outreach in this area, Tamara founded www.xpunged.com, a practice that provides a second chance to those individuals who have expungeable offenses under Illinois law.