House wants Clemens investigated

House wants Clemens investigated

The Congressional committee that investigated whether Roger Clemens took performance-enhancing drugs has drafted a letter to the Dept. of Justice, asking that the top prosecuting arm in the U.S. determine whether Clemens committed perjury.

The story appeared on The New York Times Web site Monday and quoted three unnamed attorneys as saying that the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform had written the letter and was about to refer the matter to Justice.

There was a difference of opinion among the sources, the Times reported. Two had told the newspaper that the referral was aimed at Clemens only, while the third said that Brian McNamee, Clemens' former personal trainer, was also being referred for investigation of charges.

Both men publicly appeared before the Committee on Feb. 13 and attorneys for the body had previously taken their depositions. The hearing itself broke down among party lines with Democrats chastising Clemens and Republicans taking their wrath out on McNamee.

U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the Committee chairman, said the next day that he regretted staging the hearing and that he believed both men had lied under oath.

"I am not going to comment about our internal process except to point out that no decision has been made yet on a referral," Waxman's chief of staff, Phil Schiliro, wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "We are continuing our review and it is possible a decision will be announced this week."

Last week, The New York Daily News reported that a photograph placing Clemens at a Florida pool party thrown by his former teammate Jose Canseco further placed in doubt Clemens' testimony. Canseco, who played with Clemens in Toronto in 1998, also said in a filing with the committee that Clemens didn't attend.

Clemens has denied vociferously that he ever used steroids or human growth hormone, despite evidence given by McNamee to federal prosecutors and published on Dec. 13 in the Mitchell Report. The party was also part of McNamee's testimony to George Mitchell, the former Senator and Majority Leader.

The newly surfaced photo is the property of a young man who attended the party when he was then 11 years old.

Clemens' truthfulness on the matter was also put into question during the hearing when information was introduced by Waxman, stating that a former nanny employed by Clemens had placed the seven-time Cy Young Award winner at Canseco's event. Waxman also chastised Clemens for possible witness tampering because he spoke with the nanny before she was interviewed by attorneys for the committee.

The Dept. of Justice doesn't have to act on a Congressional referral and can certainly open a grand jury on its own to review the existing evidence. Clemens can be found guilty for lying under oath during a Congressional hearing. And McNamee has a proffer agreement with federal prosecutors which states that he can be found criminally culpable of making false statements if he lied under oath.

Drug Policy in Baseball

Last month, Waxman and his colleague Tom Davis (R-Va.), the top ranking official on the committee for his party, asked the Dept. of Justice to open an investigation into whether Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada gave false statements to members of the same Committee back in 2005 about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Tejada, then with the Orioles, was interviewed in 2005 as part of an investigation into testimony given to the Committee on March 17 of that year by Rafael Palmiero. Palmiero, also then with the Orioles, was one of five players who attended that hearing. During his testimony and under oath, Palmiero wagged his finger at the panel and said that he had never used steroids.

Palmeiro tested positive for steroid use under the auspices of the Major League Baseball drug testing program later that season, his last in the big leagues.

The Tejada matter has since been turned over to the FBI, which is conducting its own investigation.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.