Rep. Lynch has good idea who's lying
For those expecting another predictable round of wild accusations between Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee during Wednesday's hearing on Capitol Hill, with no clear-cut resolution as to who is telling the truth and who isn't, take note: At least one member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said he already has a pretty good idea of who's lying.
And by the time Clemens and McNamee walk out of the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday, Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., one of the more outspoken members of the committee, said that he expects to have formulated his final opinion.
"I think that, based on all the testimony we've got here, I think that we will be able to give correct weight to the evidence tomorrow," Lynch said late Tuesday afternoon, after spending several hours reviewing the sworn depositions of Clemens, McNamee, pitcher Andy Pettitte and steroids supplier
"I have a definite idea of how the evidence is shaking out after you weigh all of this."
Lynch wouldn't say, for the record, who he now believes. "Before I make a final judgment," he said, "I would like to see and hear their live testimony so you can judge based on whole body language and their response to the allegations." But he did say that Pettitte's deposition "vindicated" McNamee in at least some aspects of his story.
McNamee told investigators for baseball's Mitchell Report that he injected Pettitte at least twice with human growth hormone in 2002, and that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone at least 16 times in 1998, 2000 and 2001. Pettitte admitted that he took two shots of growth hormone from McNamee. Clemens, one of the most celebrated pitchers in baseball history, has strongly denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs.
Wednesday's hearing could, if Lynch is right, go a long way toward determining who is telling the truth. The hearing room is expected to be jam-packed, with every lawmaker on the 41-person committee and dozens of reporters, photographers, assorted lawyers and onlookers present. It will be, according to committee member Christopher Shays, R-Conn., "unbelievably painful."
One person who won't be there is Pettitte, who has been excused from the hearing. It's a decision Lynch agrees with, though he said that he would like to have had Pettitte present to "either corroborate or refute" the other testimony.
Lynch confirmed that the two principles in Wednesday's hearing stuck to their stories in the depositions they gave last week to committee lawyers, setting up the high-stakes hearing showdown. If either man is found to have lied to Congress, either in the deposition or in front of the committee -- both McNamee and Clemens will be sworn in Wednesday -- he could face criminal charges that might lead to jail time.
"I'd say it's possible. Obviously, these stories are directly contradictory. There's very little room for common ground," Lynch said. "There's no explanation that I can think of that can reconcile these statements."
Shays, who has long objected to the inclusion of players in these hearings -- "I don't like to see the destruction of a human being," he said, "and I don't like to see Congress use its power the way it is using it right now" -- also sees little wiggle room for either McNamee or Clemens. Shays made it clear who he was pulling for.
"Basically, one is lying and one is telling the truth. And, frankly, I hope it's Brian McNamee not telling the truth," Shays said. "Roger Clemens is an icon. He is very important to baseball, and I think very important to sports fans.
"I hope and pray that Roger is telling the truth."
But Shays, who has chosen not to read the depositions, added, "It's just hard for me to come to grips with why [McNamee] would lie."
Both Shays and Lynch were among several committee members who met privately with Clemens last week, at the pitcher's request.
Whatever happens Wednesday, several congressmen said Tuesday that they're ready to bring this latest hearing involving Major League Baseball and its players to an end. The only remaining business that Lynch has with baseball -- other than perhaps helping to find some way to get human growth hormone out of the game -- is Wednesday's hearing. If that is resolved to the committee's satisfaction, as Lynch expects it will be, Congress will have effectively wrapped up its examination into the Mitchell Report, an investigation that was largely prompted by pressure from Congress itself.
"We didn't want to have a report that was left open when there was such a major concern on the part of Mr. Clemens," another committee member, Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said earlier Tuesday. "This hearing will be our effort to try to close the book on that."
Said Lynch: "I think we've got to resolve it. Otherwise, the whole committee and the entire Congressional hearing process is made a mockery of."