FBI opens probe into Clemens' testimony on Mitchell report
WASHINGTON -- The FBI took up the Roger Clemens case Thursday, told by the Justice Department to investigate whether the pitcher lied when he testified to Congress he never took performance-enhancing drugs.
The FBI's involvement was announced one day after the leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee told Attorney General Michael Mukasey they weren't sure whether Clemens told the truth under oath at a Feb. 5 deposition and Feb. 13 public hearing.
A probe could result in charges against the seven-time Cy Young Award winner for perjury, making false statements or obstruction of justice. Congress did not ask for a similar investigation of Brian McNamee, the former personal trainer who testified under oath that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.
"The request to open an investigation on the congressional testimony of Roger Clemens has been turned over to the FBI and will receive appropriate investigative action by the FBI's Washington field office," FBI representative Debra Weierman said.
As with Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, Clemens faces scrutiny from federal authorities more for what he said than what he might have done.
Bonds, baseball's home run king and a seven-time MVP, was indicted in November on perjury and obstruction of justice charges stemming from 2003 grand jury testimony in which he denied knowingly using illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Jones, the track and field star who won five medals at the 2000 Olympics, was sentenced in January to six months in prison for lying about using performance enhancers and her role in a check-fraud scam.
Miguel Tejada, the 2002 AL MVP, also is being investigated by the FBI over whether he made false statements to the House committee three years ago. He told congressional investigators he never took performance enhancers and had no knowledge of other players using or talking about steroids.
Clemens testified that he never used steroids or HGH; McNamee testified he injected Clemens with performance-enhancers at least 16 times from 1998-01.
"We've always expected they would open an investigation," Rusty Hardin, Clemens' lead lawyer, said. "They attended the congressional hearing. So what's new?"
IRS special agent Jeff Novitzky, a key member of the government's prosecution in the BALCO drug cases, attended the Clemens-McNamee hearing two weeks ago. It was not immediately clear to two law enforcement officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, what role Novitzky or the IRS would play in the FBI inquiry.
Similarly unknown was the role of assistant U.S. attorney Matt Parrella, a federal prosecutor in San Francisco, where the BALCO investigation that ensnared Bonds and Jones is based.
"Separating the investigation of perjury in Congress from everything [federal prosecutors in California] and Novitzky has developed before that would be foolhardy, wasteful and duplicitous," said Richard Emery, one of McNamee's lawyers. "Any indictment that does ensue will obviously be lengthy and complicated and should be the product of a cooperative effort."
Clemens didn't answer questions directly Thursday when approached by reporters at the Houston Astros' spring training camp in Kissimmee, Fla., where he's been throwing batting practice to minor leaguers.
"I'm going to handle it the right way," Clemens said. "You guys are wasting your time. We're going to handle it the right way."
In asking the Justice Department to look into Clemens' statements to Congress, committee chairman Henry Waxman of California and ranking Republican Tom Davis of Virginia said they weren't in a position to reach a definitive judgment on Clemens' truthfulness. They cited McNamee's testimony and that of former Clemens' teammate, Andy Pettitte, who told the committee Clemens admitted HGH use to him nearly a decade ago.
Waxman and Davis both declined comment Thursday.
Pettitte acknowledged he's prepared to be interviewed again about Clemens.
"It makes it extremely difficult," Pettitte said at the Yankees' spring training camp in Tampa, Fla. "I don't like any of this. I cannot stand it. I told you how I feel about him. I hate it. It's like a part of my family that's going to have to go through this."
Waxman's committee felt Clemens' repeated and vigorous denials of McNamee's allegations questioned the legitimacy of the Mitchell report, prepared by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and released in December.
Mitchell, a Boston Red Sox director hired by baseball commissioner Bud Selig to examine drug use in the sport, provided the first public accounting of McNamee's allegations that he injected Clemens with HGH and steroids.
Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, another former teammate of Clemens with the Yankees, both acknowledged that McNamee was correct when he said they used performance enhancers.
An 18-page memo Waxman sent committee Democrats sets out "seven sets of assertions made by Mr. Clemens in his testimony that appear to be contradicted by other evidence before the committee or implausible."
Those areas involve Clemens' testimony that he has "never taken steroids or HGH"; that McNamee injected him with the painkiller lidocaine; that team trainers gave him pain injections; that he received many vitamin B-12 injections; that he never discussed HGH with McNamee; that he was not at then-teammate Jose Canseco's home from June 8-10, 1998; and that he was "never told" about Mitchell's request to speak to him.
Those same issues were highlighted in the letter to Mukasey, which stated: "We also understand that federal law enforcement officials may have access to additional evidence on these matters." That is a reference to needles, bloodstained gauze and other items McNamee turned over to federal prosecutors in January.
No DNA evidence involving Clemens had been turned over to the FBI's lab in Quantico, Va., the two law enforcement officials told the AP. It was not known if the FBI would seek fingerprints or DNA from Clemens as part of its investigation.
Evidence gathered by the FBI, in consultation with Justice Department prosecutors, is presented to grand juries, which meet in secret and consider whether there is sufficient evidence to indict someone on charges of violating a law.
"There appears to be an enormous initiative to determine whether and from where Roger got steroids from 2002 onwards," Emery said. "That opens the door to an investigation of his home turf, at least."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
MORE MLB HEADLINES
- Sources: Rangers to sign Choo for $130M
- O's not signing Balfour, cite physical results
- Alleged kidnapping of Rangers' Martin detailed
- Youkilis will play 'one more year' -- in Japan
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
CONGRESS CALLS FOR JUSTICE
Perjury Probe• Clemens issues apology for personal 'mistakes'
• Report: Clemens alleged to have had affair
• Republican's report questions if Clemens lied
• Report: Clemens probe expands to Houston clinic
• Congressman asks FBI to drop Clemens inquiry
• FBI opens probe of whether Clemens was truthful
• Congress asks Justice to examine Clemens
• Waxman: Seven contradictions (.pdf)
• Rocket mum on Congress' investigation request
• Text of committee's letter to Justice department
• Fainaru-Wada: Damning analysis on Clemens
• Wojciechowski: Clemens' inconsistent truth
• Poll: Clemens lied, but should be voted into Hall
• Astros owner might reconsider Clemens contract
After The Hearing• Radomski says new HGH receipt found under TV
• Report: Receipts show HGH shipments to Clemens
• U.S. GM: Clemens not welcome on Olympic team
• Judge allows Clemens to keep Hardin in lawsuit
• Lawyer talking with Clemens about dropping suit
• McNamee's attorneys ask judge to remove Hardin
• Investigator wants to talk to Canseco about Clemens
• Report: McNamee selling off signed Clemens items
• McNamee tells students to learn from his mistakes
• Hardin makes case to represent Clemens
• Reports: McNamee faints behind wheel, hits bus
• McNamee's lawyers want Clemens' suit tossed
• Report: McNamee nearly joined Mets as coach
• Report: Photo exists of Clemens at party
• Pettitte reports, apologizes
• Report: Pettitte's HGH provided by ex-classmate
• Posada: 'I believe Rocket' about steroid claims
The Hearing• Transcripts: McNamee attempted to warn Rocket
• Report: Waxman wishes hearings didn't happen
• Parties divide over Clemens' treatment at hearing
• Stark's running blog
• Clemens: Pettitte 'misremembered' him on HGH
• Fish: Clemens' support breaks along party lines
• Fish: Pettitte's role was clincher for Cummings
• Pettitte says he also used HGH in 2004
• Clemens statement: I never took steroids
• McNamee statement: I told truth about Clemens
• Statement on behalf of Andy Pettitte on affadavit
• Debbie Clemens admits HGH use
Analysis• Munson: The Rusty Hardin effect on Rocket's lawsuit
• Wojciechowski: Clemens feeds feds' case
• Fainaru-Wada: Damning analysis on Clemens
• Stark: Pettitte saga doesn't end here
• Wojciechowski: Pettitte deals with past
• Hill: Truth will set Andy free
• Bryant: Clemens blames all but himself
• Wojciechowski: Pettitte speaks loudest
• ESPN experts: Who was more credible?
• Munson Q&A on Wednesday's hearing
• Drehs: Body language breakdown
• Stark: Pettitte's shadow looms large
• Neyer: What matters to Roger is Roger
Video• Complete coverage from the hearings
Committee Depositions/Interviews (pdf)• Andy Pettitte | Brian McNamee
• Roger Clemens | Chuck Knoblauch
• Clemens' nanny
The Mitchell report• Mitchell delivers his report | Read it (pdf)
• Players: Who's named in the report
• Recommendations from the report
- Majestic Men's New York Yankees Reggie Jackson #44 White Cooperstown Jersey