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Body language analyst breaks down Clemens, McNamee performances

2/14/2008

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The first verbal knife had yet to be thrown. Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee had yet to say a single word. And yet renowned body language expert Janine Driver already had jumped off her couch, paused the TiVo and pointed to her television with the excitement of someone who had just found a lost wedding ring.

"See that!?! See that!?!" Driver said. "Did you see the way Roger pulled his thumb in? That's a hot spot. That's a hot spot. That's a potential sign of deception!"

Driver has spent the past 13 years studying just that -- the subtleties and signals of body language. She has worked for the federal government, law enforcement agencies and Fortune 500 companies. She has trained more than 20,000 police officers on interrogation techniques, and has helped hundreds of men and women improve their personal lives through body language analysis. She is currently on a government assignment that she is not allowed to discuss publicly, but it has nothing to do with the investigation into performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports.

On Wednesday, 10 miles from Capitol Hill, the woman known as the "Lyin' Tamer" applied her expertise to the congressional hearings on the Mitchell report, inviting ESPN.com into her home where she shared her impressions of the on-camera behaviors of Clemens and McNamee.

Her job, to put it simply, is to overanalyze. To critique every little thing -- from a scratch of the nose to a twitch of the eye -- to search for signs of deception. There are those who might think it is overboard, and perhaps it is. But she acknowledges there is no single behavior that indicates someone is definitely lying. Instead, there are "hot spots," as she calls them, which indicate potential deception. The more hot spots, the more likely there is deception. And right from the beginning of Wednesday's hearing, when Clemens and McNamee raised their right hands to be sworn in, Driver started noticing hot spots with Clemens.

Driver first noticed the pitcher pull his right thumb into his hand while he was being sworn. She said that noted jury consultant Jo Ellen Demetrius, who helped pick the jury for the original O.J. Simpson trial, has a theory that whenever somebody sticks their thumb in while being sworn in, he or she will be a difficult witness.

"If you're going to tell the truth your thumb and your hand are open and relaxed," Driver said. "When you're controlling what you're going to say, your thumb might be tense. And Roger's thumb is tense."

She went back and played the swearing in again and found more hot spots with Clemens. He briefly stuck out his tongue, licked his lips. And then adjusted the way he was standing.

What did it all mean?

"These are signs that are indicative of someone who is possibly going to withhold the truth," Driver said. "Does it mean he is lying? No. You have to look for these clusters of hot spots. But right off the bat, we have three of them."

Driver then listened to Clemens' opening statement and was critical of the phrase, "I've been accused of something I'm not guilty of."

Driver again excitedly paused the TiVo, bragging that she couldn't wait to show this clip to a class she teaches at Johns Hopkins University. Driver said people often say passive things like, "I'm not guilty of" when they're lying.

"Look, if I asked you if you killed your son you wouldn't say, 'I'm not guilty of that,'" Driver said. "You would say, 'Absolutely not.' It's just a passive way of dancing around the issue. It's just another hot spot to pay attention to."

At another point during Clemens' opening statement, the pitcher stuttered when he said, "I'm not saying the entire report is wrong, I'm saying Brian Mc . . . Brian McNamee's statements are wrong."

The stutter stood out to Driver.

"Look, he can't even say it without a stutter," she added. "And that's his first stutter in his entire statement. If this were a case where he were lying, his stress would increase and a stutter would happen. Hot spot."

When McNamee read his opening statement, Driver had nothing critical to say. She found no hot spots. No clusters. McNamee's hands were on the table, a position she said conveys truth and confidence. And he didn't stutter in any way.


"He comes across as genuine," Driver said. "There's nothing there. It's exactly what you're looking for. There's no signs of deception. These opening statements are a perfect example of what to do and what not to do."

It's a theme that would continue throughout much of the hearing, with Driver picking up several hot spots on Clemens, but few on McNamee. Even when McNamee, the former trainer, was being grilled by several politicians, including Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., Driver said McNamee came across as believable.

Sure, his hands were shaking at times and his body language said he was nervous. He even crossed his arms and rubbed his wrists, a move Driver said Martha Stewart did frequently during her trial. But Driver found him believable, referring to his slouched shoulders and crossed arms as "defeated."

"He looks like he's out of the game, like he doesn't want to fight," Driver said. "And when bad guys are about to confess, that's what they do. Their posture is less straight, they stare off. He's in an emotional place. He's a wet rag. And he gives me the indication that he's throwing up his arms and telling us everything he knows."

Even during the heated discussion over the party at Jose Canseco's Florida home, a party that Clemens and several others contended he did not attend but McNamee claimed he did, Driver said she believed McNamee was likely telling the truth. Perhaps, she said, they both were.

"I believe that Brian truly believes that Roger was there," Driver said. "There's no notable change in his behavior to signal otherwise. And the truth, remember, is nothing more than our perception of the truth. It's what we believe of it. Maybe Brian is remembering another day that Roger was there. Maybe he saw the nanny or Roger's wife. Who knows.

"[McNamee has] got serious credibility issues. There's no question about that. But body-language-wise, he comes across as sincere. There's no reason to think he's lying."

The only issue Driver had was when Burton asked McNamee whether he had kept syringes or any other evidence from clients besides Clemens and Chuck Knoblauch. McNamee's answer: "Possibly one other." That troubled Driver.

"There's more to that story," she said. "If you've saved evidence that long, you know what you have. It's one other. Not possibly one other."

Driver said she found Clemens less than convincing throughout. She noted several things that troubled her:

•  On several occasions, Clemens referred to McNamee as "this man." Said Driver: "That's distancing language. Bill Clinton did the exact same thing when he said he did not have sexual relations with 'that woman.' It's a way to distance yourself from the truth."

•  When asked by the committee whether Clemens had received an invitation to meet with former Sen. George Mitchell to discuss his commission's findings, Driver counted Clemens pausing 23 times before answering no. "That's a serious potential hot spot."

•  When Clemens discussed pitching for Team USA and how proud he was to have those three letters on his chest, Driver noticed that Clemens' right nostril went up. That, she said, typically reveals disgust. "That's a micro-expression that shouldn't be there when he's talking about his pride in playing for his country. That's huge." During the Simpson trial, Driver said, Cato Kaelin made the same expression when lying to the prosecution about his plans to write a book on the ordeal. "It's almost a snarl. Like a wild dog. And you have to wonder why Roger did that there. Subconsciously he is leaking disgust."

•  When Rep. Darrell S. Issa, R-Calif., announced that he was pleased this would be the last hearing on steroids in baseball, Driver said Clemens raised his lip. "That's contempt," she said. "It means moral superiority, essentially, 'I win.' That just shows that he is pleased that this will be the last hearing on this topic."

But perhaps the most telling moment to Driver was the very end of the hearing, when committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., concluded by reiterating the deposition and affidavit given by Andy Pettitte, only to have Clemens interrupt Waxman and insist, "That doesn't mean he wasn't mistaken."

Waxman smacked his gavel on the desk in front of him and sternly told Clemens, "It is not your time to argue with me."

Driver said Clemens' red-faced look was as telling as the pitcher's hot-spot-filled swearing in. She stressed several times that those who tell the truth convey their message rather than convince you of it. In this case, Clemens was convincing.

"If he was telling the truth, he wouldn't have to speak at the end," she said. "But when someone is drowning, they want to grasp for one more bit of air. An innocent person, they look relieved after they tell the truth, like we see with Brian McNamee. But for Roger to be grasping for air in a sense of panic speaks volumes."

In the end, what does it all mean? Perhaps a lot. Perhaps very little. Unlike some of her colleagues, Driver said she refuses to "absolutely" accuse someone of lying since there is no certain body movement to reveal that. But just like the game of poker, there are "tells." And if one of her law enforcement colleagues had shown her a tape of the hearing and asked her to grade the two witnesses on their potential hot spots, Driver said she would have given McNamee a "1" and Clemens an "8" on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the fewest hot spots.

"There are people who will say Roger is fighting for his life so, of course, it makes sense for those hot spots to be there," Driver said. "But you know what? When you're taking an oath there shouldn't be anxiety. And if you told the truth, there shouldn't be that anxiety and rage at the end.

"Truthful people feel a relief after a hearing like this. The truth sets them free. Just look at Brian. His body language says, 'Take it. I'm done. I've told you what I know. I told the truth.' We don't see Roger Clemens doing that. And that's what makes you have to wonder."

Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at wayne.drehs@espn3.com.