KISSIMMEE, Fla. - News that Congress had sent a letter to the Justice Department to look into whether Roger Clemens lied under oath in testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee earlier this month made its way to the field, where the seven-time Cy Young Award winner threw batting practice to Astros minor leaguers yesterday.
Clemens avoided reporters after a 45-minute session in which he threw to a handful of hitters, including his son Koby. Clemens, who then went to the indoor batting cage to throw some more, ignored at least two questions on the topic. One of the estimated 100 fans near Clemens was heard yelling, "Who cares?" after Clemens was asked to comment on the action by Congress.
"The big team [the major league Astros] is up there," an irritated Clemens said.
Clemens said Tuesday he is "moving forward," but Congress's version of moving forward appears to differ with Clemens's.
Clemens arrived at the Astros' complex shortly before 11 a.m. in a black Hummer. He walked to the back field in a red Astros jacket and black sweatpants and instructed a group of pitchers before loosening up to throw BP.
He didn't seem to have a care in the world while on the field, talking with the young players. But when it came to the media, Clemens wanted no part of talking.
"Wow! You guys need to get a life. I did all I am going to do [Tuesday]," he said of answering questions.
During Clemens's testimony, he seemed to have the support of some of the committee's Republican members, but it was both chairman Henry Waxman, a Democrat, and ranking Republican Tom Davis who authored the letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, asking the Justice Department to look into Clemens's deposition Feb. 5 and testimony at the public hearing Feb. 13.
"We are not in a position to reach a definitive judgment as to whether Mr. Clemens lied to the committee," wrote Waxman and Davis. "Our only conclusion is that significant questions have been raised about Mr. Clemens's truthfulness and that further investigation by the Department of Justice is warranted. We ask that you initiate such an investigation. The record of the committee's proceedings will be made available to the Department of Justice to assist in the investigation."
Clemens said at the hearing that he "never used anabolic steroids or human growth hormone."
"The contradictions and conflicts in what Clemens had to say, as compared to what others had to say, raised the issues about him," Waxman said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. "I don't think there was an issue about Brian McNamee, but there certainly were issues about Roger Clemens."
"Not everybody can be right, and the preponderance of the evidence in this case points to the fact that Clemens's comments are the most incongruous," Davis told the AP. "We are asking Justice to see what was the truth and what wasn't the truth."
While Clemens was mum on the subject yesterday, his attorney, Rusty Hardin, seemed to welcome the investigation.
"Roger has known since December that if he publicly took the position he has taken, this would be the result. The good news is we are now going to be on a level playing field," Hardin told the AP. "I am comfortable that when a jury hears this case . . . they will conclude that Roger did not use steroids or growth hormone."
Representative Stephen Lynch, Democrat of South Boston and a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said yesterday that while he was skeptical that Davis would be on board with pursuing the matter further, given his "level of advocacy" with Clemens's testimony, there was not a great deal of persuasion needed.
Lynch also said that while the Clemens case was different than the Miguel Tejada referral to the Justice Department, which is investigating whether he made false statements to the committee in 2005, "the underpinnings are similar. The justification is similar." Tejada, who was the Astros' major offseason acquisition, has declined comment on the investigation into his testimony. Lynch emphasized that the testimony of Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte and McNamee, Clemens's former trainer, was not part of the letter.
"We believe that his testimony in a sworn deposition on Feb. 5, 2008, and at a hearing on Feb. 13, 2008, that he never used anabolic steroids or human growth hormone, warrants further investigation," the letter read. "That testimony is directly contradicted by the sworn testimony of Brian McNamee, who testified that he personally injected Mr. Clemens with anabolic steroids and human growth hormone. Mr. Clemens's testimony is also contradicted by the sworn deposition testimony and affidavit submitted to the committee by Andrew Pettitte, a former teammate of Mr. Clemens, whose testimony and affidavit reported that Mr. Clemens had admitted to him in 1999 or 2000 that he had taken human growth hormone.
"Mr. Pettitte's testimony and affidavit further reported on two past conversations with Mr. McNamee that support Mr. Pettitte's recollection of the 1999 or 2000 conversation with Mr. Clemens. Mr. Pettitte's affidavit and testimony state that in a conversation with Mr. McNamee shortly after Mr. Clemens alleged admission to Mr. Pettitte, Mr. McNamee became angry when Mr. Pettitte told him that he knew that Roger Clemens had used human growth hormone because that was supposed to be confidential. According to Mr. Pettitte's deposition, he also had another conversation with Mr. McNamee in 2003 or 2004 in which Mr. McNamee told him that he had obtained steroids for Mr. Clemens. Independently, in his deposition, Mr. McNamee recalled two conversations with Mr. Pettitte, one that could have occurred in 2000 and one in 2004, about Mr. Clemens's HGH and steroid use that were similar in substance to the two conversations described by Mr. Pettitte."
The letter also included references to whether Clemens attended a party at Jose Canseco's home in 1998 and references to Clemens's assertions on "whether Brian McNamee injected Mr. Clemens with lidocaine in 1998; whether Mr. Clemens received pain injections from trainers on all four of his major league teams; whether he regularly received vitamin B-12 injections from team doctors and trainers; whether he ever talked with Mr. McNamee about human growth hormone . . . whether he ever received notice that Senator George Mitchell asked to meet with him in connection with Senator Mitchell's independent investigation of the illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in major league baseball."
Clemens, who spent 3 1/2 hours at the complex, signed autographs. One fan wore a Red Sox cap, and a T-shirt that read, "Rocket Fuel has no HGH." But another shouted to Clemens, "Say hello to Michael Vick!"