Clemens Makes Bid for Golden Duke Award

February 13, 2008 11:25 a.m.

It’s a nightmare scenario for a witness. When Roger Clemens went to testify this morning before the House oversight committee, lawmakers, armed with testimony from two other witnesses, tried to spring what they could on him to catch him in a lie.

Sitting at the same table — on the other side of an investigator on the Mitchell Report on steroids in baseball — was Brian McNamee, Clemens’ former trainer, who has said under oath and said again today that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) a number of times.

And in the first round of questions, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) came at Clemens with a second line of attack: Clemens’ friend and former teammate Andy Pettite had told the committee under oath that he’d had a couple conversations with Clemens and one key conversation in particular where Clemens had told him that he’d taken HGH. Ouch. You can see video here:

Clemens denies it all. He’s already called McNamee a liar and launched a lawsuit against him. As for Pettite, Clemens said that he must be “misremembering,” and said that the conversation was really about “a TV show, something that I’ve heard about three older men that were using HGH and getting back their quality of life from that.” Cummings kept producing more details from Pettite’s testimony and Clemens kept claiming that Pettite had misremembered. The denials culminated in this memorably tangled answer:

“Once again, Mr. Congressman, I think he misremembers the conversation that we had. Andy and I’s relationship was close enough to know that if I would have known that he had done HGH, which I now know, if he was knowingly knowing that I had taken HGH, we would have talked about the subject. He’d have come to me to ask me about the effects of it.”

So should Clemens be up for Best Testimonial Trainwreck in 2008?

A transcript of the exchange is below.

CUMMINGS: I’m going to ask you a few questions, Mr. Clemens. And I first want to make sure that you’re very clear: You understand that you’re under oath, is that correct?

CLEMENS: That’s correct, Mr. Cummings.

CUMMINGS: And you know what that means. Is that correct?

CLEMENS: That’s correct.

CUMMINGS: Very well.
First of all, Mr. Pettitte, Andy Pettitte, is one of the most respected players in the major league. And commentator after commentator has said that he is one of the most honest people in baseball.
Would you agree with that?

CLEMENS: I would agree with that, yes, sir.

CUMMINGS: Keep your voice up.

CLEMENS: I would agree with that, yes, sir.

CUMMINGS: In fact, this is what your own lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said about Mr. Pettitte in the New York Times, and I quote: “We have nothing to fear about what Andy may testify to. Everyone says that Andy is honest. We have no reason to believe he will lie.”
Would you agree with that statement your lawyer made?

CLEMENS: I would agree with that, yes.

CUMMINGS: Very well.

Now Mr. Clemens, I want to ask you just one thing. In his deposition, Mr. Pettitte told the committee that he had a conversation with you in 1999 or 2000 in which you admitted that you used human growth hormones. Is this true?

CLEMENS: It is not.

CUMMINGS: So you did not tell Mr. Pettitte that you used human growth hormone?

CLEMENS: I did not.

CUMMINGS: And — but at the same time, you just said that he’s a very honest fellow. Is that right?

CLEMENS: I believe Andy to be a very honest fellow, yes.

CUMMINGS: Very well. Let’s continue. In his deposition, Mr. Pettitte was honest and forthcoming with the committee. He told us things that were embarrassing, that we had no way of knowing, except through his own testimony.

First, he confirmed that Mr. McNamee injected him with HGH in 2002, which is in the Mitchell report. You understand that, right?


CUMMINGS: Then he told us that he injected himself again in 2004. We did not know about the 2004 injection, but he volunteered that information because he wanted the committee to know the entire truth.
It was hard for Mr. Pettitte to tell the committee about the 2004 injections. The circumstances, which he described in length, were exceptionally personal and embarrassing.

But it was even harder for him to talk about you, Mr. Clemens. He’s friends with both you and Mr. McNamee, and he felt caught in the middle.

During his deposition, he was asked how he would resolve the conflict between two friends. Here is what he said, and I quote. “I have to tell you all the truth. And one day, I have to give an account to God, and not to nobody else, of what I’ve done in my life. And that’s why I’ve said and shared the stuff with you all that I would not like to share with you all,” end of quote.

Now, Mr. Clemens, I’m reminding you that you are under oath. Mr. Clemens, do you think Mr. Pettitte was lying when he told the committee that you admitted using human growth hormones?

CLEMENS: Mr. Congressman, Andy Pettitte is my friend. He will be my — he was my friend before this. He will be my friend after this. And, again, I think Andy has misheard.

CUMMINGS: I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you.

CLEMENS: I believe Andy has misheard, Mr. Congressman, on his comments about myself using HGH, which never happened.

The conversation that I can recall that I had with Andy Pettitte was at my house in Houston, while we were working out, and I expressed to him about a TV show, something that I’ve heard about three older men that were using HGH and getting back their quality of life from that. Those are the conversations that I can remember.

Andy and I’s friendship and closeness was such that, first of all, when I learned, when he was — when he said that he used HGH, I was shocked. I had no idea.

When I just heard your statement and Andy’s statement about that he also injected himself, I was shocked. I had no idea that Andy Pettitte had used HGH.

My problem with what Andy says, and why I think he misremembers is that if Andy Pettitte knew that I had used HGH or I had told Andy Pettitte that I had used HGH before he would use the HGH, what have you, he would have come to me and asked me about it. That’s how close our relationship was.

And then, when he did use it, I’m sure he would have told me that he used it. And I say that for the fact that we also used a product called Hydroxycut and ThermaCore. It had ephedra in it, from what I understand to be a natural tree root. I believe ephedra was banned at some — 2004, something of that nature. A player in Baltimore passed away because of it.

Andy and I talked openly about this product, and so there’s no question in my mind that we would have talked — if he knew that I had tried or done HGH, which I did not, he would have come to me to ask me those questions.

CUMMINGS: Well, let’s continue. In the deposition, we wanted to make absolutely sure, because we knew the significance of this, that Mr. Pettitte had a clear recollection.

CUMMINGS: And let me read another excerpt from the deposition. And this was a question to Mr. Pettitte.

“‘You recollect a conversation with Mr. Clemens. Your recollection is that he said he was taking human growth hormone.’ Answer, ‘Yes.’

‘And you have no doubt about that recollection?’ ‘I mean, no, he told me that.'”

Now, Mr. Clemens, you know Mr. Pettitte well. You just, again, described your relationship. You described him as a close friend in your deposition.

Would he tell the Congress that one of his close friends was taking an illegal performance-enhancing drug if there were any doubt in his mind about the truth of what he was saying?

CLEMENS: Mr. Congressman, once again, I believe in my — I’m sorry?

CUMMINGS: I just want you to just go ahead and answer that. Do you think he would do that?

CLEMENS: I think he misremembers of our conversation.

CUMMINGS: Very well.

CLEMENS: And let me add in 2006 — in 2006, he and I had a conversation in Atlanta’s locker room when this L.A. Times report became public about a Grimsley report. And they said that Andy’s and my name were listed in that.

And I remember him coming into that room, the coaches’ room, the main office there of the clubhouse attendant, and sitting down in front of me, wringing his hands and looking at me like he saw a ghost.
And he looked right at me and said, “What are you going to tell them?”

And I told him that I’m going out here, I’m going to tell them the truth — I did none of this. I never worked out with Jason Grimsley. He was a teammate of mine and I never worked out with him, and I’m going to go out here and tell them the truth.

That alone should have confirmed Andy’s misunderstanding that I’ve ever told him that I used HGH.

CUMMINGS: Very well.

Let’s continue because I want to make sure that I get through some very key points.


CUMMINGS: Mr. Clemens, you have been very critical of Mr. McNamee’s motives. You just did it a few minutes ago. What possible motive would Mr. Pettitte have to fabricate a story about you, his friend?

CLEMENS: Andy would have no reason to.

CUMMINGS: Very well.

This was so important, we went back to Mr. Pettitte a third time — a third time. We asked him to submit an affidavit to the committee. This gave him a chance to express his recollection clearly without the pressures of a deposition.

I want to read to you what he wrote. It says, “In 1999 or 2000, I had a conversation with Roger Clemens in which Roger told me that he had taken human growth hormones. This conversation occurred at his gym in Memorial, Texas. He did not tell me where he got the HGH, or from whom, but he did tell me that it helped the body recover.”

It is not just Mr. Pettitte who recollects this conversation. During his deposition, Mr. Pettitte told us that he tells his wife everything. So, we asked his wife to give us an affidavit about what she knew. And understand, this is under oath.

Let me read to you what his wife said in her affidavit: “I, Laura Pettitte, do depose and state in 1999 or 2000, Andy told me he had had a conversation with Roger Clemens in which Roger admitted to him using human growth hormones.”

CUMMINGS: Mr. Clemens, once again, I remind you you’re under oath.
You have said your conversation with Mr. Pettitte never happened. If that was true, why would Laura Pettitte remember Andy telling her about the conversation?

CLEMENS: Once again, Mr. Congressman, I think he misremembers the conversation that we had. Andy and I’s relationship was close enough to know that if I would have known that he had done HGH, which I now know, if he was knowingly knowing that I had taken HGH, we would have talked about the subject. He’d have come to me to ask me about the effects of it.

CUMMINGS: Well, the fact is, Mr. Clemens, that apparently now you know he knew it and he didn’t know it. Has your mind changed about his credibility?

CLEMENS: Andy’s a fine gentleman. I have no reason — again…

CUMMINGS: Very well.

CLEMENS: … I think he misremembers.

CUMMINGS: Very well.

CLEMENS: Again, our relationship was close enough that if I knew that — if he knew that I had tried HGH, which I hadn’t, he would have come to me and talked to me and discussed the subject.

CUMMINGS: I understand.

The 1999 or 2000 conversation was not the only conversation that Mr. Pettitte remembers having with you about HGH. He also remembers a second conversation very clearly. This conversation took place in 2005. Let me read to you what he wrote about this conversation in his affidavit.

And I quote, “In 2005, around the time of the congressional hearings into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, I had a conversation with Roger Clemens in Kissimmee, Florida. I asked him what he would say if asked by reporters if he had ever used performance-enhancing drugs. When he asked what I meant, I reminded him that he had told me that he had used HGH.

“Roger responded by telling me that I must have misunderstood him. He claimed that it was his wife, Debbie, who used HGH. And I said, ‘OK,’ or words to that effect, not because I agreed with him, but because I wasn’t going to argue with him.”

This conversation happened just three years ago, and it is the kind of conversation that most people would remember. It is hard for me to imagine that Mr. Pettitte made up this conversation. Did you have a conversation with him to this effect?

CLEMENS: I don’t believe I had a conversation in 2005 with him in Kissimmee, Florida. We would have been with the Houston Astros at the time. But I don’t remember that conversation whatsoever.

CUMMINGS: Are you saying that you don’t remember it, or you’re telling us that you didn’t have it? Do you know?

CUMMINGS: And the reason why I’m asking you that is because we’re dealing with some serious matters here, and I want to give you…


CUMMINGS: You wanted a fair chance to address this committee, and I’m just wondering — are you telling us under oath that it didn’t happen, or you’re saying you just don’t remember?

CLEMENS: I don’t remember that.

And again, I’ll address the — any conversation about my wife, Debbie, using HGH.
I know that, at one point, she read a USA Today article about that. I don’t know the year. It sure could have been 2005 when this article came about, and they just — you know, it was just general talk…

CUMMINGS: All right.

CLEMENS: … about HGH.

CUMMINGS: Let me go on.

Laura Pettitte also has a clear recollection of being told about this conversation by her husband.
Let me read what she wrote. “A few years later — I believe in 2005 — Andy again told me of a conversation with Roger Clemens about HGH. Andy told me that he had been thinking that if a reporter asked him, he would tell the reporter of his own use of HGH in 2002. He said that he told Roger Clemens this and asked Roger what he would say if asked. Andy told me that in the 2005 conversation, Roger denied using HGH and told Andy that Andy was mistaken about their earlier conversation. According to Andy, Roger said that it was his wife, Debbie, who used HGH.”

Now, the timeline is very important here. According to Mr. Pettitte’s — Pettitte, his first conversation with you, Mr. Clemens, occurred in 1999 or 2000.

But you told us that your wife did not use HGH until 2003. That makes it impossible that you could have been referring to your wife’s use of HGH in the first conversation.

CUMMINGS: These aren’t the only relevant conversations that Mr. Pettitte told us about. He told us that after his first conversation with you, Mr. Clemens, he spoke with Mr. McNamee.

Let me read what you — let me read to you, again, that affidavit, and I quote: “Shortly after my conversation with Roger, I spoke with Brian McNamee. Only he and I were parties to the conversation. I asked Roger about HGH and told him that Roger said he had used it. Brian McNamee became angry. He told me that Roger should not have told me about his use of HGH because it was supposed to be confidential.”

Mr. McNamee, do you remember that conversation?

MCNAMEE: Yes, sir.

CUMMINGS: Did it happen?

MCNAMEE: Yes, sir.

WAXMAN: Mr. Cummings, your time has expired.

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