Ex-Pitcher Roger Clemens Charged With Perjury
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
354 wins, two World Series rings, seven Cy Young awards and now a six-count indictment for former Major League ace Roger Clemens. Today, a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. hit him with three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of Congress. All stem from testimony that he gave back in 2008 when the topic was his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs.
Mr. ROGER CLEMENS (Major League Baseball Player): Let me be clear: I have never taken steroids or HGH.
SIEGEL: HGH being human growth hormone. Clemens now seems headed for trial.
NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman is with us now. Hi, Tom.
TOM GOLDMAN: Hi, Robert.
SIEGEL: And let's start with today's indictment, Tom. Six counts in all. What else does it contain?
GOLDMAN: Theres detail about the charges. It also lays out the history leading up to when Clemens allegedly lied to Congress, starting with the 2005 hearing on baseball and performance-enhancing drugs, which prompted the 2007 Mitchell Report, the investigation by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell into drug use in baseball.
Now, among other allegations in the Mitchell Report, one that Clemens, when he played for the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees, used anabolic steroids and human growth hormone on multiple occasions between 1998 and 2001.
Clemens immediately denied that, then he agreed to testify before Congress about it. And in February of 2008 he did that. And today's indictment says Clemens obstructed the inquiry with 15 statements that he made under oath. Those statements included repeated denials that he had ever used steroids or human growth hormone.
SIEGEL: And let's listen to a little more of Roger Clemens before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform back in 2008.
Mr. CLEMENS: I've chosen to live my life with a positive attitude. Yet, I'm accused of being a criminal and I'm not supposed to be angry about that? If I keep my emotions in check, then I'm accused of not caring. When I did speak out, I was accused of protesting too much so I am guilty. When I kept quiet at the advice of my attorney, until he could find out why in the world I was being accused of these things, I must've had something to hide. So I'm guilty. People who make false accusations should not be allowed to define another person's life.
SIEGEL: Pretty defiant there, Roger Clemens before Congress. Who are the people he says are making false accusations, who are the accusers Clemens is going after?
GOLDMAN: Well, principally, Brian McNamee, Clemens personal trainer. He testified to the same House committee in 2008 that he injected Clemens more than a dozen times with steroids and human growth hormone from in that 1998 to 2001 window. McNamee turned over what he said was physical evidence of Clemens' doping - syringes, gauze pads that McNamee alleged contained traces of Clemens' blood.
Now, both the New York Times and Washington Post reported that tests on that evidence reveal the presence of steroids and Clemens DNA. Clemens has maintained, and continues to maintain, Robert, that McNamee was lying. Now, also, Clemens New York Yankees teammate and longtime friend, pitcher Andy Pettitte, who admitted himself to using HGH, told investigators that Clemens told him, Pettitte, that he, Clemens, also used human growth hormone. And Clemens was pressed about that during that 2008 hearing.
Unidentified Man: Mr. Clemens, once again, I remind you you're under oath. You have said your conversation with Mr. Pettitte never happened. If that was true, why would Laura Pettitte remember Andy telling her about the conversation?
Mr. CLEMENS: Once again, Mr. Comice(ph), I think he misremembers the conversation that we had. Andy and I's relationship was close enough to know that if I would have known that he had done HGH, which I now know, that he was knowingly knowing that I had taken HGH, we would've talked about the subject. He would've come to me to ask me about the effects of it.
GOLDMAN: Now, Robert, we should add that the indictment does not include charges against Roger Clemens for assaulting the English language.
SIEGEL: Yeah, they could sentence someone to parsing that sentence. Now, what happens to Roger Clemens now?
GOLDMAN: It appears, judging by the initial reactions of Clemens and his lawyer that itll head to court. Clemens tweeted the following: I never took HGH or steroids and I did not lie to Congress. I look forward to challenging the governments accusations and hope people will keep an open mind until trial. I appreciate all the support Ive been getting. Im happy to have my day in court.
And Clemens lawyer, Rusty Hardin(ph), told a news conference after the indictment was announced that government offered Clemens a plea bargain but Clemens rejected it.
I should also say that one of McNamees lawyers said today, as far as were concerned, its vindication.
SIEGEL: And if convicted of these accounts, what kind of penalty might Clemens face?
GOLDMAN: He faces a combined maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine. But if convicted on all charges, Robert, it's more likely his prison sentence would be between 15 and 21 months.
SIEGEL: Okay. NPRs Tom Goldman. Thank you, Tom.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
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