Sticking to his guns
Clemens to committee members: I'm clean
Posted: Thursday February 7, 2008 4:40PM; Updated: Thursday February 7, 2008 4:40PM
It appears from his one-on-one meetings with members of Congress that Roger Clemens will be sticking to his guns when he goes before the congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Feb. 13.
Clemens requested the meetings, which occurred on Thursday, the same day that his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, arrived in Washington, D.C., to give a deposition to the committee. In general, committee members did not want to discuss the private talks, but several did confirm to SI.com that Clemens was consistent with his public statements that he did not use performance-enhancing drugs.
Elijah Cummings (D-MD), a committee member and co-founder of the congressional Caucus on Drug Policy, was willing to talk to SI.com about his meeting with Clemens, but says that when Clemens or the two lawyers that accompanied him began to talk about the allegations against the pitcher, or about McNamee, Cummings steered them toward other topics. "I think that is best left to the confines of the committee, where it is under oath," said Cummings, who has frequently said that what he wants to hear from Major League Baseball and its players is how they are going to change the minds of young people who have been convinced that they have to use steroids to be good ballplayers.
"I told [Clemens] that, while I was concerned about what his testimony might be and the allegations against him and others," Cummings says, "that my greater concern went to young people trying to emulate things they assumed major league players were doing." Clemens told Cummings that he would like to join any effort to educate young people about steroids.
Cummings added that he reminded Clemens that he had better tell the truth before the committee, and implied that he will ask questions that would put either Clemens or McNamee in the position of having to lie if they are both to stick to their public statements.
Cummings previously told SI.com that he does not think the committee will hesitate to investigate Clemens or McNamee if either seems to be lying. Last week he said that "considering the precedent that has been set with regard to [Miguel] Tejada, and knowing the committee like I think I do, I think that if [the committee] finds a situation similar to what is suspected in the Tejada case, that [Clemens or McNamee] will find themselves referred to the Justice Department."
It is not entirely clear why Clemens requested the one-on-one meetings, but staffers for committee members say that it is not unprecedented for prospective witnesses to request meetings, particularly to try to get some sense of what the most incisive inquisitors might be interested in come hearing time.