ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Baseball great Roger Clemens is not guilty. Clemens was acquitted today on all six counts against him. He had been charged with lying to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg was in the courtroom this afternoon and she joins us now. Nina, not guilty on all six counts. Was that a surprise?
NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Not to me. I've covered a lot of trials. And usually when I'm at that moment where we're getting the verdict, my heart is pounding, I'm really - I'm not sure at all, and this time I couldn't believe - I would've been shocked if the jury would've convicted him. This was a pretty paltry case in terms of evidence.
SIEGEL: Well, describe the scene in the courtroom when the verdict was announced.
TOTENBERG: Well, Clemens himself seemed relatively unemotional, but his whole family was there. His four sons were holding hands together tightly. And when we got through all six not guilty charges and not guilty verdicts, they started to weep. And then afterwards, the lawyer, Rusty Hardin, and Clemens got - this huge bear hug. Then the whole family in their row stood up and were like in a little football huddle, holding on to each other. You know, a nice scene at the end of a trial. We don't usually have nice scenes. We have very dramatic scenes. This was dramatic in the not usual way.
SIEGEL: Then Clemens went outside of the courtroom and I gather he talked about...
TOTENBERG: Yeah, he came out quite quickly outside and he was very calm initially, thanking his family, his friends and everything, and then he said and you guys in the media who've covered my career, and suddenly he choked up and he fought back tears for about 30 seconds, and finally said this:
ROGER CLEMENS: (Unintelligible) lot of hard work into that career, and so, again, I appreciate my teammates that came in and all the emails and phone calls, from my teammates, so, thank you all very much.
SIEGEL: Roger Clemens speaking after his acquittal today in Washington. Nina, all this began following a House committee hearing into the use of performance-enhancing drugs by Major League baseball players. Remind us how Clemens got involved in all of this.
TOTENBERG: Well, Clemens was the most visible person by far in a way - the seven-time Cy Young award winner - and he said I never used these drugs, not steroids, not human growth hormone. The committee didn't believe him and it referred his case to the Justice Department, which decided to prosecute him for perjury and obstructing a congressional investigation.
SIEGEL: It's hard not to notice that the acquittal of Roger Clemens comes not too long after the acquittal of John Edwards. Two prosecutions that had been questioned, why, in the one case, prosecution that involved violation of campaign finance laws, which have since been so altered by the Supreme Court. In this case, was it really worth a federal case over whether a great pitcher used performance-enhancing drugs or not.
TOTENBERG: Well first the Justice Department. The Edwards case was brought initially by a Bush holdover and who is very politically ambitious, is running for Congress. There are a lot of folks who think the Justice Department simply didn't want to overrule him. This case was sent to the Justice Department by the Congress, by the congressional committee. And again, they would - the Justice Department would have said - had to say sorry guys. Now, there are those who will say the Justice Department got its rewards today. Its rewards are a goose egg. And that's because it didn't stand up to, perhaps, people who should've been stood up to.
SIEGEL: Thank you, Nina.
TOTENBERG: Thank you.
SIEGEL: NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg on the verdict in the trial of baseball pitcher Roger Clemens. He was found not guilty on all counts.
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