WASHINGTON -- Attorneys for former baseball player Roger Clemens are questioning the legitimacy of the congressional investigation into whether he used steroids -- an investigation that led to his criminal trial.
Jurors heard testimony from two House officials Wednesday and Thursday, the first evidence offered in the case. The officials have been explaining the function of Congress and the committee that Clemens testified before three years ago, when he denied he ever used performance-enhancing drugs.
Clemens has been charged with lying in making those denials under oath. His attorney, Rusty Hardin, is questioning whether the hearing into allegations of drug use by Clemens exceeded Congress' authority. Prosecutors are arguing that Congress had a legitimate interest in regulating steroids in baseball because it relates to U.S. drug policy.
"What possible proper investigative function is served by asking a private citizen if they used a controlled substance?" Hardin asked retired House Parliamentarian Charles Johnson.
Johnson said Congress has authority to conduct investigations even if it relates to private conduct if it has a possible impact on public policy.
Johnson was the first witness in the case, and his testimony was followed by Phil Barnett, a House employee who led the questioning of Clemens during a deposition in February 2008. Barnett said the committee was concerned about drug use in baseball, particularly because of the example it set for young people.
Barnett's testimony was to be followed later Thursday by Baltimore attorney Charles Scheeler, who investigated which baseball players used performance-enhancing drugs for former Sen. George Mitchell in his 2007 report to the league. The report named Clemens and 85 other current and former players and led to the congressional hearings.
In opening arguments Wednesday, prosecutors said needles and cotton balls that trainer Brian McNamee says he used to inject Clemens tested positive for the star pitcher's DNA and anabolic steroids. Hardin responded that he won't dispute the needles contain Clemens' DNA and steroids, but accused McNamee of "mixing" it up.
"He manufactured this stuff," Hardin told jurors. "Roger Clemens' only crime was having the poor judgment to stay connected with Brian McNamee."
Clemens has said that the only things McNamee ever injected him with were the common local anaesthetic lidocaine for his joints and vitamin B-12 to ward off flu viruses and stay healthy. But Durham said neither substance was found on the needles or cotton swabbed with his bloodstains.
"They found absolutely no B-12, and they found absolutely no lidocaine," Durham said. "What they did find was anabolic steroids."
McNamee says he collected the evidence in 2001, when Clemens became the first pitcher ever to start a season 20-1, led the Yankees to the World Series and won his sixth of seven Cy Young awards as the league's best pitcher.