Iâm not sure if weâll be adding a category for Best Legal Eagle Blowup to the Golden Duke Awards, but if we did, this might take the prize.
Roger Clemens’ hearing today was mostly a cordial one, all things considered. But at one point, things broke down to the point where Clemens’ two top-flight lawyers Lanny Breuer (formerly President Clinton’s special counsel in the Lewinsky affair) and Rusty Hardin were standing behind him, their hands on his shoulders in an attempt to silence him, shouting at Waxman. Here’s the video:
The issue itself was over a rather minute detail. As I understand it (not being a Mitchell Report-ologist), Brian McNamee, Clemens former trainer and main accuser, has said that Clemens first approached him about using steroids and human growth hormone after a party at slugger Jose Canseco‘s Miami home in 1998. Clemens’ lawyers have gone after McNamee’s credibility on this, offering proof that Clemens was in fact not at that party. McNamee says he saw him there.
Again, the party in and of itself is not a very consequential detail. But since it goes to McNamee’s credibility, Clemens’ lawyers have been hammering on it. And during Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) questions, Waxman revealed that when Waxman’s committee inquired after the name of Clemens’ nanny at the time who was supposedly at this party, Clemens’ lawyers immediately tracked her down and interviewed her at Clemens’ home. The nanny would supposedly be a key witness on this ultimately inconsequential detail.
Waxman didn’t allege anything exactly, but it was clear from his questions that he was hinting that Clemens’ lawyers had wanted to get to the nanny first in order to make sure she remembered things “correctly.” Clemens’ lawyers were enraged, Hardin at one point shouting in response to one of Waxman’s questions about whose idea that was, “It was my idea! It was my idea to investigate what witnesses know, just like any other lawyer in the free world does!”
Transcript of the exchange is below.
WAXMAN: You have a tough job today; you said you find it very hard to have to prove a negative.
But your attorneys have provided documentation to rebut the passage in the Mitchell report about a party at Jose Canseco’s house.
I don’t view this passage as anything central to the issue before us, but it’s important that we know if it’s true. And your attorneys and you have been very forceful in telling us that the report is wrong. You were not at Jose Canseco’s house between June 8th and June 10th, 1998, when the Toronto Blue Jays were playing in Miami.
In your deposition, you were asked, “Could you have been at this house during this time period, June 8th to June 10, 1998?” And you answered, “No.”
Is that a correct statement?
CLEMENS: On the date, sir?
WAXMAN: Did you answer no to the question whether you were at Jose Canseco’s party?
CLEMENS: If you’ll repeat your question, then I can — please.
WAXMAN: Well, during your deposition, you were asked, could you have been at his house during this time period, which was June 8th to 10th, 1998.
And you answered no.
You’ve given us supporting materials. You provided an affidavit from Jose Canseco that said you were not at his house during the team party on June 9th. You provided a golf receipt from 8:58 a.m. on June 9th, which showed that at least that morning you were purchasing merchandise at the golf course next to Canseco’s house. And you provided excerpts from a baseball broadcast that reported that you were not at the team party.
And these came up when several other members asked you about it.
It’s all very helpful.
When the committee took Mr. McNamee’s deposition, he had a completely different recollection, as he has today.
WAXMAN: He had a clear recollection that Mr. Clemens was at Mr. Canseco’s home.
So our committee staff investigated this issue, and we received conflicting evidence. I’m not surprised by conflicting recollections of a party of around 10 years ago that was really of no special importance. But Jose Canseco thinks Roger Clemens and Mr. Canseco’s ex-wife weren’t at the party. Mr. Canseco’s ex-wife, Jessica Fisher, believes that she was there and so was Debbie Clemens.
Mr. McNamee told us that one key witness who would know whether you were at Canseco’s house for that party was your former nanny. And the committee staff asked your attorneys for her name last Friday so we could contact here. We made additional requests for her name and contact information over the weekend.
Around 5 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, committee staff made another request and asked your attorneys to refrain from contacting the nanny before the committee staff could speak with her.
It wasn’t until Monday afternoon that your attorneys provided the nanny’s name and phone number to the committee. And it wasn’t until yesterday that the committee staff actually spoke with the nanny.
Are you aware of all this time frame, time line about the nanny?
CLEMENS: I’m not sure of all the time frame. I know that…
WAXMAN: OK. Well, what the nanny said to us when we finally contacted her yesterday was important in several respects.
First, she said that she was at Mr. Canseco’s home during the relevant time period. In fact, she said that she and Mrs. Clemens and the children stayed overnight at the Canseco’s.
Secondly, she told us she did not remember any team party as described in the Mitchell report.
And third, she said that she did not — she did remember that you were at that home during the relevant time period, although she didn’t know how long you stayed or whether you spent the night with your family.
WAXMAN: The third point directly contradicted your deposition testimony, where you said you were not at Mr. Canseco’s home at any point June 8 to June 10, 1998. But it’s entirely understandable to me. It was 10 years ago.
Here’s what puzzles me about your actions. We have a transcript of the interview with the nanny whose name I’m not going to release to protect her privacy. But in this transcript, she says that on Sunday, this last Sunday, you called her and asked her to come to your Houston home. She had not seen you in person since 2001. But after you called, she went to your home on Sunday afternoon.
And I’d like to read a portion of the transcript of the committee interview.
“Question: When you said you didn’t remember a party, what did he say?”
“Answer: He says, ‘You know, the reason you don’t remember that party is because I wasn’t there.’ He said, ‘Because I know that he was playing with Jose.'”
“Question: So did he ask you, ‘Do you remember a party?’ and then you said you did not remember a party?”
“Answer: That’s right.”
She also told the committee staff that you told her that she should tell the committee the truth, and after your meeting, an investigator working for you called her and asked her a series of additional questions.
Your meeting took place two days after the committee staff made a simple request for your former nanny’s name, and then it took 24 hours after your meeting for your attorneys to provide her name to the Republican and Democratic staffs.
And that’s why I’m puzzled about this. Why was it your idea — was it your idea to meet with her before forwarding her name to us or did someone suggest that to you?
CLEMENS: Mr. Chairman, I believe that, just like through this whole hearings, I was doing y’all a favor by finding a nanny that was supposedly came in question.
WAXMAN: You might have been trying to do us a favor, but who told you, you should invite her to your house — that you haven’t seen her in all those years?
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, this is unfair. What his lawyers tell him is unfair for you to ask. And I well tell you…
WAXMAN: OK, well I accept that. I accept that. I accept that. Gentleman, please be seated.
Was it your idea — that’s the appropriate — was it your idea…
(UNKNOWN): It was my idea. It was my idea to investigate what witnesses know.
(UNKNOWN): Just like any other lawyer in the free world does.
WAXMAN: Did you think, Mr. Clemens, it was a good idea to invite her to your home on Sunday after not seeing her for seven years?
CLEMENS: I’m sorry?
WAXMAN: Did you think it was a good idea to invite her to your home after you hadn’t seen her for seven years?
CLEMENS: I was told on Friday night to see if you — you know, we could locate the nanny. Obviously, that’s very nice of you. I don’t think that she needs any publicity.
But I was told on Friday night that you guys may want to talk to her, and so…
WAXMAN: And you felt you should talk to her first? Well, I don’t know if there’s anything improper in this.
CLEMENS: Mr. Chairman, I hadn’t talked to her in years. And I did everything I could to locate her to — if you guys had any questions for her, and I did tell her to answer truthfully. I don’t — again, I’m not sure…
WAXMAN: OK. Well, I don’t know if there’s anything improper in this, but I do know it sure raises an appearance of impropriety. The impression it leaves is terrible. The right way to handle this would have been to give the committee information immediately, to not have your people interview the nanny before we did, and certainly for you not to personally talk to her about the interview, as you did.
One option for you was to have given the committee the nanny’s contact information and had no contact with her. Another option could have been to give her a head’s up that the committee would be calling her.
WAXMAN: But you chose I think the worst approach. That’s my opinion. You invited her to your home; had a specific conversation about whether you were at Mr. Canseco’s house. And you did this before you gave the committee her contact information.
Is there anything else you want to add?
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, this is nothing but innuendo.
Your committee asked on Friday evening for this information. We have done everything to give you that information in a fast and in a thorough manner.
The innuendo is terrible.
And I spoke to your own staff member who’s speaking with you now. And your statement is — and I have the highest respect for the chairman, is calculated to do nothing but to have innuendoes against this man. We have cooperated with you fully…
WAXMAN: Well, I understand your…
(UNKNOWN): … as your own…
WAXMAN: The gentleman — as I indicated, the rules do not allow the lawyers to speak, but I did not cut you off.
This action means there’s always going to be a question of whether you tried to influence her testimony. And I gather your lawyer thinks…
CLEMENS: Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman, I was doing you all a favor, as far as I was concerned. I haven’t seen this lady in a long time. She’s a sweet lady. And I wanted her — to get her to you as quick as possible if you had any questions for her.
And, again, I’m hurt by those questions that I would get in the way of finding anything that you guys were looking for. That’s — I’m hurt by that statement.
(UNKNOWN): We asked her to come…
WAXMAN: The gentleman is not going to be recognized.
My time is up.