And then comes the main event.
The last time that baseball players appeared before the committee was in 2005, and "we couldn't write drama like that," said one congressman who recalled
According to committee members the Feb. 13 hearing will serve two important functions (beyond providing dramatic headlines): First, Congress is hoping for insight into player/trainer/clubhouse employee relationships. "I can't remember a lot being said in the Mitchell Report about how trainers operate," says
Congress has sent a message that lying to reporters is a simpler affair than fibbing on the Hill. The Jan. 15 hearing, which featured
All of the Feb. 13 witnesses have been asked to give statements to the committee prior to the hearing. The witnesses have the choice of submitting a sworn deposition or a transcribed interview. The difference is that a deposition would be given under oath, whereas an interview would not. However, it is a crime to lie to Congress, whether under oath or not, so the only practical difference is that an interview transcript could immediately be made public, while a deposition could only be made public by a vote of the committee or an agreement between the chairman and ranking minority member.
Immunity is rarely granted. The last time the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform gave a witness immunity was in 2003, when testimony involved an ongoing criminal investigation. One reason that Congress might deny McNamee immunity is if the Justice Department has made it clear that it is still investigating McNamee. If McNamee were given an immunity deal the Justice Department could still prosecute him if it obtained information about his crimes independent of his testimony. As a general rule, though, it is very hard for a prosecutor to prove that information was not gleaned from immune statements if the testimony was given publicly, and the evidence is liable to be thrown out.
"So that you get other evidence about other witnesses," says
Attorneys and staff members who work for the committee.
It's likely that many of the questions will be the same, because committee members want to know ahead of time what witnesses will say at the hearing. That information helps staffers put together reports for committee members so they can ask pointed questions at the hearing. However, members only have five minutes apiece to ask each witness questions, so there will certainly be details that they do not have time for but which can be covered in depositions. Also, as Ausbrook notes, committee staffers who take the depositions will want to ask witnesses questions about other witnesses. According to Cummings once all the depositions are gathered, if there are conflicting statements, staff members will inform members about the conflicts and perhaps propose questions for the hearing that highlight factual disagreements.
That's unclear. If a witness opts for a transcribed interview, we might find out soon; otherwise we might not find out at all (assuming the depositions aren't leaked) -- unless the witnesses discuss it. The committee is not allowed to disclose the contents of a deposition without the required approval (so far the committee has not decided whether to make these depositions public), but the witness who was deposed can talk about it all he wants. Now that the date of Clemens' deposition/interview has been moved back from Jan. 26 to Feb. 5, Andy Pettitte will be the first witness to meet with Congress, on Jan. 30. If Pettitte wanted to, he is free to tell Clemens and anyone else he chooses about his statements after he gives them.
The committee has transcripts of at least three tape-recorded conversations:
1) The Jan. 4 phone conversation between Clemens and McNamee that was played for the world at Clemens' press conference on Jan. 7.
2) On Dec. 12, the day before the Mitchell Report was released, McNamee, in what one of his lawyers called an "incredibly foolhardy" decision, agreed to meet with investigators sent by Clemens' lawyer Rusty Hardin. McNamee spent hours detailing his conversations with federal and Mitchell Report investigators, apparently in an effort to warn Clemens of what was coming. Hardin, when he filed a defamation lawsuit on behalf of Clemens, used an excerpt from that conversation to suggest that McNamee had been pressured by federal investigators to give Clemens up.
3) On Dec. 5 McNamee spoke with
Clemens is engaged in a public fight, with his reputation at stake. In what George Mitchell has dubbed "the steroids era," all transcendental achievements are called into question by fans, particularly those of players over 30 years old. Thus it makes sense that people would point to Clemens' late-career renaissance as a potential sign of cheating, and it also makes sense that, in an effort to protect his reputation, Clemens' team would look to justify his production. The report says that Clemens effectively mixed in a split-finger fastball in his later years, even while his heater was cooling off, and that some of the slumps he bounced back from were caused by injuries, not senescence. If committee member
Clemens' main attorney is 66-year-old Houston-based Rusty Hardin. Hardin, a former prosecutor, has made something of a niche out of defending Texas athletes. Among his victories for athletes:
Clemens' newest lawyer is Washington, D.C.-based
Last week the congressional committee said that Knoblauch had not responded to invitations to attend the hearing, so the committee issued a subpoena for him, to be served by U.S. marshals. But on Monday, Knoblauch told the committee that he was willing to meet, and so the subpoena was withdrawn. If Knoblauch hadn't agreed to testify, he might have been held in contempt of Congress. In that case he would have been guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by between one and 12 months in prison and a $100-$1,000 fine.
Radomski, the former Mets clubhouse attendant who provided steroids to dozens of players, pleaded guilty in April to one felony count of distributing anabolic steroids and one felony count of money laundering. Along with McNamee, Radomski was the major source of names contained in the Mitchell Report.
As part of his plea deal Radomski, who faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 8, agreed to cooperate with Mitchell's investigators in the hopes of winning leniency in his sentence. Radomski, through his lawyer, has refused to make public comments in the wake of the Mitchell Report. After his sentencing, though, the muzzle is off. One of the reasons the committee pushed the second hearing back from Jan. 16 to Feb. 13 was so Radomski will be able to speak freely.
Knoblauch has agreed to meet the committee, but it's still not clear what he might say. In the Mitchell Report, McNamee said he injected Knoblauch with human growth hormone in 2001. In his only public comments on the Mitchell Report, Knoblauch told the
Pettitte admitted to using human growth hormone after the Mitchell Report was released, insisting that he did so only to return from an injury. Pettitte's admissions has been widely viewed as lending credibility to McNamee's statements in the report. Pettitte has not publicly commented on the allegations made against Clemens, and Pettitte's lawyer would not comment on any aspect of the upcoming hearing, but a committee staff member says that Pettitte will likely be asked about Clemens when he meets with the committee.
Initially there was speculation that the suit was filed to give Clemens an excuse to bail on Congress, but in all of his public statements Clemens has affirmed his intent to testify. McNamee's legal team has until Feb. 11 to respond to the lawsuit.
According to a committee staff member the order of testimony and seating arrangements will be worked out as the hearing nears. However, there is only one witness table in the hearing room, so it's likely that the witnesses will have to sit together.