Congress drafts letter reportedly asking feds to look at Clemens

Updated: February 26, 2008, 12:37 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Roger Clemens' appearance before Congress not only may have failed to clear his name, it might also have led to more trouble.

The New York Times reported on Monday that the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has drafted a letter recommending that the Justice Department launch a criminal investigation into whether Clemens committed perjury during his testimony on Feb. 13.

Citing three lawyers familiar with the matter, the newspaper said that Clemens' accuser, Brian McNamee, was not included in the letter, prompting speculation that the committee has concluded that the trainer's testimony was truthful.

McNamee alleges in the Mitchell report that he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs on at least 16 occasions. In a deposition and during his testimony, Clemens denied ever using PEDs.

The Feb. 13 hearing was split along partisan lines, with Republicans blasting McNamee and Democrats questioning the veracity of Clemens. The tenor of the event led many to believe that the committee would recommend an investigation into both Clemens and McNamee. Although McNamee could be included in a final recommendation from the committee, the draft letter suggests the group's thinking at this time.

A letter from the committee is not binding in any way, and federal agents were present at the Feb. 13 hearing anyway.

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"It simply puts informal public pressure on the Department of Justice to take a look at it and respond in some way to Congress' action," Todd D. Peterson, a law professor at the George Washington University School of Law who worked in the department's Office of Legal Counsel during the 1980's and 1990's, told the Times.

Karen Lightfoot, spokeswoman for committee chairman Henry Waxman, would not comment when asked about the existence of the draft letter. Waxman's chief of staff did not respond to telephone or e-mail messages.

Waxman and ranking Republican Tom Davis have been working in concert during the committee's look at steroids in baseball, dating to the 2005 hearing with Mark McGwire.

But as of Monday evening, the committee's sides hadn't been in contact about a letter or a referral.

"We've not been told about a draft letter. We haven't been told to expect one. And we haven't been told about a process where anyone was supposed to draft a letter," committee Republican general counsel Keith Ausbrook said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.