Round 2: Clemens vs. McNamee
So what have we learned? After five hours of questions, five hours of answers, five hours of this particular unofficial juror furiously trying to type and listen at the same time, what have we learned? We learned that Andy Pettitte -- who once was Roger Clemens' best buddy -- is now his worst nightmare. It may be tough to fully believe anyone else. But it's easy to believe a guy like this, who had so many reasons to defend and corroborate his longtime friend and hero -- but didn't. We learned that Clemens' old nanny may present some big problems for him, too. She, apparently, brought Clemens' kids to that Jose Canseco bash in Florida. And when Clemens invited her to his house for a chit-chat last week -- before she'd been interviewed by investigators -- he raised some questions that could be tricky to dismiss. But we also learned that Brian McNamee isn't anybody's idea of a star witness. He admitted to lying on several fronts. He admitted he didn't tell the whole truth about Clemens to investigators. He had lousy alibis for all of that. And he didn't present his side in even a remotely forceful manner. In the Battle of the Network Witnesses -- even if the network was C-SPAN -- Clemens was a much more compelling personality. He sat up straight, while McNamee slumped. He looked everyone directly in the eyeballs, while McNamee stared at the table in front of him. And Clemens spoke with passion and energy, and with what sounded like heartfelt conviction -- even if there was reason to raise many an eyebrow over his versions of the truth. He hasn't heard the last of this, obviously. Far from it. How can there NOT be an investigation now into whether he perjured himself? How can a grand jury NOT consider whether to indict him? How can his pal Andy Pettitte NOT be called back to somebody's witness stand to expound upon all this further? But he had a better day than most of us probably suspected he would. And in a case in which there still doesn't appear to be a whole lot of physical evidence -- other than an old syringe, stuffed in a Lite Beer can -- he just might be able to sell his story in a court of law. Whether he can sell it in the court of public opinion, though, is a whole 'nother story. Or, in my case, I'm afraid, possibly a whole 'nother live blog.
3:27 p.m. ET
We never heard from McNamee again, either.
Oops. Roger might have been feeling a little too good. He was doing swell until he made the mistake of interrupting Rep. Waxman during the committee chairman's final remarks. Waxman was in the midst of concluding that Pettitte obviously didn't believe Clemens' denials -- or his alleged 2005 assertion that he meant only his wife was using HGH -- when the Rocket chirped up. "That doesn't mean he was not mistaken," Clemens said. He may have had more to add, but we'll never know. Waxman slammed that gavel as hard as any opposing hitter has ever taken a swing at Clemens and snapped: "This is not your time to argue with me." That, not surprisingly, was the last time we heard from Roger. 3:10 p.m. ET
Meanwhile, Clemens' confidence only seemed to grow as the afternoon rolled onward. And it showed, when Rep. Diane Watson asked him a simple question: What did he think of the Mitchell report? It could have been an occasion for Clemens to mumble a quick answer about how he'd been wronged and leave it at that. But he turned it into his soliloquy of the day. He turned and pointed right at Brian McNamee -- maybe the first time all day Clemens had even looked at his accuser. "I strongly disagree, obviously, with this man and the claims he made about me. But I've lived my life, knowing that if I had the opportunity to chase my dreams and make it to the major leagues, I'd be an example to kids -- not only my own but other children. I want them to know there are no shortcuts. You have to work hard. And steroids are bad for you. They're bad for your body. I want kids to know that." Contrast that with Mark McGwire whispering, "I'm not here to talk about the past." Roger Clemens may get charged with perjury, anyway. But say this for him: He made a tremendous witness. 3:01 p.m. ET
Rep. Christopher Shays got all the names right Wednesday. So that was good news. He also interrupted his denouncement of this whole shebang as a "Roman circus" to torch McNamee. "Mr. McNamee," he said at one point, "I agree with some of what you say, but it depends when." He then accused McNamee of being a "drug dealer," which evoked the first real show of emotion from McNamee all day. "I only did what players asked," McNamee said, "and it was wrong." When McNamee tried to claim that because of that he wasn't a drug dealer, Shays pounced. "You were a DRUG DEALER," he bellowed. "You were dealing drugs." "That's your opinion," McNamee retorted. "No," Shays snapped. "That's not opinion. You were dealing drugs. You're telling me that as a former police officer, you weren't dealing drugs?" "Dealing in them?" McNamee answered. "Yes." "Were they LEGAL drugs?" Shays went on. "No," McNamee said, almost in a whisper. Shays shook his head, like a teacher who had just caught a kid in the back of the class trying to fake an assignment. "Then you were a drug dealer," he said. As this day went on, Brian McNamee has looked and felt less credible by the minute. But never more than at THIS minute. 2:49 p.m. ET
Back came Rep. Elijah Cummings to crystallize why Clemens is in such an impossible spot, as convincing as he sounded at times Wednesday. "If I walked in here," Cummings told Clemens, "and it was even Steven, you and Mr. McNamee, I must admit that the person I believe most & is Mr. Pettitte." Cummings then laid it all out, almost exactly as he'd done hours earlier. "When Mr. McNamee gave his testimony about Knoblauch and Pettitte, those allegations turned out to be true," Cummings went on. "But for some reason, when it comes to you, it's a whole 'nother thing. How do you explain this?" Clemens then insisted one more time that Pettitte had "misheard" him. Cummings wasn't buying it. "I've listened to you very carefully," Cummings said. "And I take you at your word. And you're telling me that Andy Pettitte is an honest man, and his credibility is pretty much impeccable. You said you were misunderstood. But all I'm saying is, it's hard to believe. It's hard to believe your story. "I hate to say that. You're one of my heroes. But it's hard to believe you." Rep. Elijah Cummings, ladies and gentlemen. The most powerful voice in this hearing, by far. 2:32 p.m. ET
Debbie speaks. Well, not in her own voice. But long after her husband first indicated he had a statement from his wife that he wanted to read, he finally found an opening during questioning by Rep. Virginia Foxx.
Not surprisingly, her account of how she came to use HGH matched her husband's. She said she'd read a news article about the benefits of HGH, and that McNamee also told her about the same article. He told her, "It's not illegal and it's used for youthfulness." And whaddayaknow, he just happened to have some with him.
Mrs. Clemens said that McNamee gave her one shot, at a time when her husband wasn't home. She said she was "very comfortable with trying it" and that it was "a harmless act on my part." It was Roger, she said, who told her to "back off" when he found out about it. And it was Roger who told Congress on Wednesday that Debbie was "very broken up about this for a long time. She told me she feels like a pawn in this game." That, by the way, is exactly what she has become. And that's a sad commentary on what a low-brow reality-show plot this story has descended into. 2:17 p.m. ET
Two great moments from Rep. Lynn Westmoreland's time in the spotlight: 1. Westmoreland questioned what the heck everybody was doing there in the first place, saying it wasn't Congress' role to investigate individual players and that "if we called everyone who was accused of using steroids before this committee, we'd have to shut this place down." Amen to that. 2. But since he was there, sitting in front of a microphone, Westmoreland then turned his guns on McNamee to ask why he never told Clemens during that recorded phone call that he was telling the truth. McNamee repeated his earlier alibi that when he said, "It is what it is," that was his way of saying he had said he'd told the truth. McNamee then said, "If I'd known he was going to air [the tape] on national TV, I would have said, 'I did tell the truth.'" Westmoreland seemed clearly bemused by that rationale, then got off the congressional quip of the day: "It depends on what 'is what it is' means, I guess." 2:09 p.m. ET
Could the Rocket be investigated for illegal B-12 use, too? Sounds like it isn't out of the question, after Rep. Bruce Braley asked him whether he had been diagnosed with anemia, senile dementia or Alzheimer's. Or whether he was a vegetarian or a vegan. They were moving along nicely till the vegan stuff came up. "I don't know what that is," Clemens replied. "I'm sorry." Sheez, and we had him pegged as a closet vegan, too. Turns out, Braley informed him, those are the only approved medical reasons for anyone to get a B-12 injection. Really? Then blame Roger's mother. "My mother in 1988 suggested I take B-12," Clemens said. "I always assumed it was a good thing, not a bad thing." Fortunately, Rep. Darrell Issa jumped in to defend both Clemens' mother and B-12 -- and not a moment too soon. Issa said his own mother had taken B-12 shots, and that it couldn't hurt you and might help you. If that's the case, it's surprising no one has ever injected chicken soup on the advice of his mother. 1:57 p.m. ET
Sorry. Don't want to leave the John Duncan portion of the festivities too soon. There was one more highlight. Duncan asked about the Mitchell investigators' failure to contact Clemens directly (as opposed to going through his lawyer) about these charges. And that got the Rocket off and rolling again.
Hey, it's another Charles Scheeler sighting. Rep. Danny Davis roused Scheeler to ask about the propriety of Clemens and his lawyers contacting the nanny. Scheeler said it wasn't unusual for a lawyer to interview a witness. But for the subject of the investigation -- meaning Clemens -- to talk directly to the witness was highly unusual. Uh-oh. Looks like we haven't heard the last of this Nannygate mess. We'd be stunned if the nanny doesn't find her photo in the New York Post by Thursday morning at the latest.
Nannygate erupts again. Rep. Tom Davis asked Clemens to clear up how he came to invite the nanny back to his house last week and we learned from Clemens "it was great to see her."
But as the Nannygate questioning rolled along to center around whether Clemens' family was at Canseco's increasingly famous party, Clemens did suggest he came to "believe the nanny was there with my kids."As for him, though, "I was on my way to the ballpark," Clemens said, voice rising. "I know one thing," he said. "I wasn't holed up with somebody trying to do a drug deal." Another fine sound bite moment for Clemens. He'll take all he can get. 1:28 p.m. ET
The final exchange before the break was another doozie. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton ran through a laundry list of all the unseemly stuff McNamee had allegedly done to Clemens -- lies about Ph.D.s, claiming the Rocket's workout program was McNamee's workout program, using Clemens' photo in an ad without permission, etc. -- and wondered, "Why did you continue to employ him?" This seemed like a set-up question -- a chance for Clemens to talk about what a great guy he is. Instead, the Rocket rambled all over the District of Columbia. After about four attempts to get Clemens to sing his own praises, Clemens finally caught on. "Why did you keep this man? It's very simple," Norton said. "He did some pretty horrendous things." "I'm a forgiving person," Clemens said, finally. Oh. That explains it. That satisfied Norton, anyhow. "Mr. Clemens," she concluded. "All I can say is, I'm sure you're going to heaven." Whoops. Blow that whistle. Fifteen yards for excessive praise. 1:16 p.m. ET
Nannygate. Oh no. Did the Rocket really invite his old nanny to the house to suggest she testify that she didn't remember that party at Canseco's house? Or was he just trying, in his words, "to do the committee a favor" by tracking her down? I have no idea. But Rep. Henry Waxman sure seemed to think something funny went on, claiming Clemens' lawyers delayed giving the committee the nanny's name and number until after they'd had a chance to meet with her first. "There will always be a question now about whether you tried to influence her testimony," Waxman said. "I'm hurt by those statements, that I'd get in the way of anything you guys were looking for," Clemens replied. "It was my idea," yelped his lawyer, Rusty Hardin (who was out of order, by the way). "It was my idea to investigate what a witness knew, just like any other lawyer in the free world would have." It was at this point that many of us in the listening audience couldn't help but ask: What has this hearing come to? 1:05 p.m. ET
Finally, the Rocket found a congressman who was on his side. Rep. William Lacy Clay fed him a BP softball about what he should tell his kids when they asked about these allegations about how Clemens achieved all he achieved. That gave Clemens a chance to go through his most impassioned monologue of the day -- one that included this pithy sound bite: "Somebody is trying to break my spirit in this room. And they're not going to break my spirit. ... You can tell your boys I did it the right way, and I busted my butt to do it." Clay's mushy follow-up to those words: "A colleague of mine, Mr. Capuano of Massachusetts, wants to know what uniform you're going to wear to the Hall of Fame." There are times and places for hero worship. This hearing wasn't one of them. We charge Clay with inappropriate pandering. What's the federal punishment for that? 12:58 p.m. ET
Oh, great. Rep. Mark Souder wants another shot at Bud Selig. Souder made reference to a conversation McNamee recalls having with former Yankees player rep David Cone. In that conversation, Cone allegedly told McNamee that owners had told him during labor negotiations that they "don't want to test [for steroids], but they needed an excuse to give the media for why they weren't testing." McNamee, of course, could only recount his discussion with Cone, not Cone's discussions with the owners. So Souder turned to Waxman and suggested that since the Mitchell report had targeted the union and not the owners for resisting testing, they should pursue whether this was true and the owners were just as culpable. Fortunately, Waxman didn't rub his hands together and say, "You're darned right. We'll have Mr. Selig back in this room by 4:30." He just took this suggestion "under advisement." And our advice to them both would be, "Enough already!" 12:43 p.m. ET
Did Rep. John Mica once work for Crayola? He spent his entire line of questioning trying to determine the color of the various injections these two guys claim were given. If you were curious, McNamee said Winstrol is a "powdery white," while testosterone was "oily" and "honey-colored" and HGH, when added to water, was "clear." And Clemens testified that B-12 was "red or pink." OK, kids. Feel free to color along at home now that you have that straight. 12:35 p.m. ET
I'd like to thank Rep. Paul Kanjorski for allowing George Mitchell's aide, Charles Scheeler, to actually utter a few sentences. Somebody had to do it. For the record, Scheeler said he "can't think of a single fact [in the Mitchell report] we'd recant." 12:29 p.m. ET
Rep. Stephen Lynch turned his attention to an issue I thought I'd never see discussed on national television, from the floor of Congress -- a "palpable mass" on Clemens' buttock. Lynch recounted how the Blue Jays' team doctor admitted he had given Clemens a vitamin B-12 shot. But Lynch said the doctor and the training staff said they'd never seen a reaction to a B-12 shot as severe as Clemens' reaction. So the committee submitted Clemens' MRI to an expert on MRIs, Dr. Mark Murphy. And Dr. Murphy, according to Lynch, said the mass was "more compatible with Winstrol injections" than with B-12 injections. Asked to explain this, Clemens threw the doctor under the team bus, saying, "I hate to get on Dr. Taylor ... but if he gave me a bad shot, he gave me a bad shot." This grilling went on awhile, whereupon Rep. Davis jumped in to complain about this line of questioning, even saying "this gave new meaning to the term, 'lynching.' " Was this the biggest national free-for-all in history over a palpable mass on a buttock? I'd vote yes. 12:14 p.m. ET
Rough time for McNamee. Rep. Dan Burton was all over McNamee, wondering about a question many of us have asked: Why would he ever have held on to vials and syringes for five years that could implicate a friend? "He was my employer," McNamee answered.
Rep. John Tierney had an experience many of us in the media have had while trying to interview Clemens: We ask one thing. He gives an answer that seems to be in response to some whole other question. And no matter how hard we try, he keeps answering the question he hears, not the question we asked. Tierney noted three specific times Clemens told investigators he'd never talked to McNamee about HGH -- but then cited two occasions when he confronted McNamee about his injection of his wife with HGH. Repeatedly, Tierney asked Clemens how he "reconciled" that inconsistency. Repeatedly, Clemens gave answers that indicated that "prior" to those conversations, he'd never had a "specific" discussion with McNamee about HGH. You wanted to scream out, "Roger, that's not what he's asking." But eventually, Tierney just gave up and moved on. Been there. Done that. 11:49 a.m. ET
OK, it's party time. Rep. Davis told McNamee about a long list of people who didn't recall Clemens attending the fabled Jose Canseco party in Miami where McNamee claims Clemens and Canseco first talked about steroids. McNamee didn't back down. He gave vivid detail of a woman running after a child in a green bikini. And when he asked who that was, he said he was told, "Roger Clemens' nanny." "I know Roger showed up a little bit later," McNamee claimed. Asked how he knew, McNamee gave an answer that indicated he and Clemens talked many times about what a fabulous time they'd had at that party. "We had numerous conversations," McNamee said, "about how great that party would have been if we didn't have a game that night." Is it possible Clemens showed up so late, after playing golf, that no one else remembers him being there? That's the question. Right? 11:41 a.m. ET
Curt Schilling had the bloody sock. Roger now has the bloody pants. Rep. Davis reported that McNamee had testified that Mike Stanton once noticed that Clemens was bleeding through his dress pants -- which caused him to start carrying band aids around, presumably for his bleeding butt. Yikes. Prompting the following surreal exchange: Davis: "Mr. Clemens, do you recall bleeding through your pants in 2001?" Clemens: "I do not." You can't make this stuff up. 11:37 a.m. ET
First big exchange involving McNamee: Rep. Tom Davis grilled McNamee about the infamous taped phone conversation, in which Clemens asked him to "tell the truth." "Why didn't you just tell Mr. Clemens ... 'Roger, I did tell the truth?'" Davis asked. McNamee: "Because ... I realized I was being taped. ... But if you listen to it and know my jargon, I did say that. I said, 'It is what it is' ... meaning, 'I did tell the truth.'" Anyone who re-listens to the tape of that conversation will have that same impression -- that they both knew this was being taped and that each, in his own way, was trying to trap the other. That, I've long thought, is why so many things went unsaid that day. 11:29 a.m. ET
And obviously, Rep. Cummings doesn't believe any of Roger's story. Any of it. Three direct questions from Cummings: • "Mr. Pettitte said he had 'no doubt' about his recollection. ... Why would he tell Congress that one of his closest friends was taking an illegal performance-enhancing drug if there was any doubt in his mind?" • On Pettitte's wife, Laura, also saying Pettitte had told her that Clemens had admitted using HGH: "If that conversation never happened, why would Laura Pettitte remember that conversation?" • "What possible reason would Mr. Pettitte have to fabricate a statement about you, his friend?" Clemens' answer: "Andy would have no reason to." Wow. Elijah Cummings' 15 minutes won't go down on Clemens' career highlight reel. Wouldn't you say? 11:20 a.m. ET
But here's a more dubious portion of Clemens' account of their discussion of HGH. So what was that conversation about that Pettitte referred to? Clemens gave an answer way out of left field. He said he recalled talking to Pettitte about a TV show in which three older people said they'd used HGH and improved their quality of life. They may indeed have had that conversation. But could Andy Pettitte possibly have come away from that discussion thinking he'd just heard his friend, the living legend, Roger Clemens, tell him he'd actually used HGH. Tough to believe. 11:18 a.m. ET
Rep. Cummings kept right on bearing down. "Mr. Clemens, do you think Mr. Pettitte was lying when he told this committee you admitted using Human Growth Hormone?
More drama: Rep. Elijah Cummings started his questioning by making sure Clemens knew he was under oath -- "and you know what that means? Is that correct?" "Yes, sir," the Rocket replied. Cummings then praised Pettitte as being "one of the most respected players in the major leagues and one of the most honest people in baseball." "I would agree with that. Yes, sir," Clemens responded. But when Cummings then confronted Clemens with Pettitte's testimony that the Rocket had told him he'd used HGH, and asked Clemens if this was true, Clemens gave him a stern, "It is not." "So you did not tell Mr. Pettitte you used Human Growth Hormone?" "I did not," Clemens said. Again, whew. Anybody think Cummings believes a word coming out of Clemens' mouth? 11:01 a.m. ET
Just a thought as the questioning of the Rocket gets rolling: Since he's under oath, any chance one of these congressmen could ask Roger what the heck actually happened when he threw that bat at Mike Piazza? He didn't really think that was the ball, did he? Sorry to digress. Just thinking. 10:59 a.m. ET
The big moment from McNamee's statement:
You body-language watchers should have a field day with this one. As Rep. Waxman was speaking, Clemens looked him right in the eye, while McNamee looked everywhere but at that podium. But as McNamee spoke, Clemens looked straight down at the floor, as if he were trying to make himself believe this man wasn't even speaking. Quite a show. 10:54 a.m. ET
One more highlight from Clemens' statement:
The anger in Clemens' voice during that opening statement was unmistakable. There was an edge in his voice and a look in his eye that didn't look the slightest bit contrived. Heck, he even admitted it. He was steaming as he read those words. "I've chosen to live my life with a positive attitude," he said. "Yet I'm accused of being a criminal. I'm not supposed to be angry about that?" Revealing words. 10:47 a.m. ET
Rep. Waxman's opening statement covered so much ground, it's tough to summarize it all. But let's just say he didn't mess around.
• He praised Andy Pettitte effusively for his honesty, saying "Mr. Pettitte's honesty makes him a role model, on and off the field." Again, this was an ominous sign for the committee's willingness to believe Clemens' side of the story.• Rep. Waxman made it obvious somebody is going to be charged with perjury once this hearing concludes -- because "it's impossible to believe this was a simple misunderstanding. Someone isn't telling the truth." • He said that if Brian McNamee isn't telling the truth about Clemens, that's "inexcusable." But if Clemens isn't telling the truth about McNamee, "he's acting shamefully." And Rep. Waxman reiterated he doesn't see how there's any gray area. One is lying. One is telling the truth. "And I don't think there's anything in between." • Waxman said, unequivocally, that McNamee's accounts were "bolstered" by the testimony of Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch. Again, not good news for the Rocket. • Waxman did scold McNamee for failing to tell investigators the whole truth on two occasions -- once when he was questioned about the infamous Florida date-rape incident several years ago, the other when he failed to tell prosecutors the full extent of how often he injected Clemens and McNamee because, in McNamee's words, he was trying not to hurt the guy." Waxman then said, firmly, "That's no excuse." • Finally, Waxman went through a long list of areas in which Clemens' account was "in direct conflict" with the testimony of McNamee and Pettitte. Waxman particularly singled out Clemens' alleged conversations about HGH with Pettitte -- one in 1999 or 2000, the other in 2005. In the first, Pettitte testified that Clemens told him he'd used HGH. In the second, Clemens claimed Pettitte had misunderstood and that he'd actually said his wife had used HGH. Waxman said Clemens and McNamee agreed that McNamee had injected Debbie Clemens in 2003. And that, Waxman said, "makes it impossible" that Clemens could have told Pettitte three or four years earlier that his wife was the HGH user, not him. So unless the Rocket can explain his way out of all those "inconsistencies" clearly and convincingly, that perjury charge is going to be almost inescapable. Isn't it? 10:28 a.m. ET
Here's a shocker. Rep. Waxman said he wanted to cancel the hearing and just issue written reports. But Clemens' lawyers helped talk him out of that, saying it would be "unfair" to cancel the hearing without giving Roger a chance to testify publicly. Whew. Careful what you wish for. 10:15 a.m. ET
An attorney I know told me before the hearing to watch for signs that the committee favors one side or the other going in. How about this for a sign: Within the first two minutes of his opening remarks, Rep. Henry Waxman called the Mitchell report "impressive and credible." That tells you exactly what Waxman believes, and, more importantly, whom he believes. Wish Roger luck trying to change his mind. 9:25 a.m. ET
You think George Mitchell ever thought it would come to this? The Greatest Pitcher of His Time sitting in a Congressional hearing room, wondering how his life turned into a very special episode of "Access Hollywood"? Think about where this story has gone since the Mitchell report plopped into the middle of our lives. From Mike Wallace to taped phone conversations. From syringes in beer cans to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. And now this. Where does this day rank in the annals of most riveting Congressional hearings of modern times? With Watergate? With Oliver North? With Joe McCarthy? In a way, this one supersedes them all, because it brings in an audience that has never watched three seconds of C-SPAN. It brings in those of us who arrive here not because we care about the inner workings of Congress or jurisprudence, but because we care about a sport that is supposed to be our escape from that world. Well, not anymore. In sports, we're used to walking away from the big event knowing the score, knowing who won and who lost. It won't work that way today. Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee will tell their stories. Andy Pettitte will tell his tale via the miracle of affidavit. Questions will fly. Answers will follow. But not the ultimate answer. It will be a long time before we know this score. Remember that. What I'll be looking for -- what you should be looking for -- is who squirms, who stammers, who hedges. Look for body language. Look for who can't recall what. Listen for tone of voice. Listen for new information. Listen for corroboration of somebody's story, anybody's story. Listen for signs that one of these men has had his credibility seriously damaged. It should be amazing theater. Two men. Two stories. A perjury rap hanging on every answer. This, friends, ought to be live-blogging at its finest.