Clemens’s Lawyer Questions McNamee’s Truthfulness and Memory
McNamee’s cross-examination here Wednesday was an impromptu performance, often confusing, and played out like a cable courtroom drama gone off the skids. It ended, perhaps mercifully, at lunch, but not before Judge Reggie Walton of the United States District Court tried to discern what each side was arguing and warned again to play by the rules.
Last summer, Clemens’s federal perjury trial ended in a mistrial when prosecutors showed inadmissible evidence to the jury involving Andy Pettitte, Clemens’s friend and teammate.
Before the jury entered the courtroom Wednesday morning, the defense lawyer Mike Attanasio challenged prosecutors for allowing McNamee to mention Pettitte repeatedly in his testimony about Clemens. Clemens’s team, led by Rusty Hardin, believes that McNamee’s every mention of Pettitte, the Yankees pitcher, suggests guilt by association because Pettitte has admitted to using human growth hormone.
“Mr. Hardin will come and tackle me if I move for a mistrial, so I will not,” Attanasio told the judge.
“We really like this jury,” he continued. “We really like the way this trial is going. We are not asking for a mistrial.”
Instead, both sides received a lecture from Walton on how he expected lawyers in his courtroom to conduct themselves, with civility and integrity.
When McNamee finally took his seat in the witness box, there was the expectation, especially after his unsteady performance Tuesday under brief cross-examination, that Hardin would throw his questions high and tight right from the start.
McNamee has testified that he injected Clemens 8 to 10 times in 1998, was ordered by Clemens to dispose of a Ziploc bag of used testosterone ampuls and was asked by Clemens if oral steroids were safe to use. McNamee said he once hurriedly injected Clemens inside a utility closet in the visitors’ clubhouse at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on a getaway day.
Instead, Hardin prodded McNamee about a failed book manuscript and signed sports memorabilia, suggesting that McNamee, a former New York City police officer turned fledgling clubhouse training guru, was trying to cash in on his notoriety since the Congressional hearings.
He questioned McNamee’s memory, pointing out that he could recall small details from a baseball clubhouse in Tampa in 1998, but could not remember what was on the cover of his proposed manuscript.
“You have to have me show you the cover of your book to know what’s on it?” Hardin said.
But McNamee stood his ground, asking Hardin to break down compound questions as well as repeat them several times.
Hardin was more effective pointing out the inconsistencies of some of McNamee’s statements since baseball’s steroids era came to light in the Mitchell report in 2007.
McNamee’s veracity is at the crux of the government’s case, which contends that Clemens lied to Congress in a February 2008 hearing when he denied ever using steroids in his professional baseball career.
Federal prosecutors need the jury to believe that from 1998 to 2001 McNamee injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone — and not vitamin B12 and the painkiller lidocaine, as Clemens said in his Congressional testimony.
“Whether or not Roger Clemens used steroids depends upon when you are telling us the truth,” Hardin told McNamee.
Hardin walked McNamee through a timeline of how he and Clemens arrived at the moment of the “booty shot,” the first time McNamee said he gave Clemens a steroids shot.
Hardin hammered home the fact that Clemens had just come off his third Cy Young Award and one of his greatest seasons, and had barely met and gotten to know McNamee.
“You’re saying this man picked you out of the world to give him a steroid shot?” Hardin said.
“That’s what happened,” McNamee said.
“Why didn’t you try to talk Clemens out of it?” Hardin said.
“I was under the assumption he was already doing it,” McNamee said.
When Hardin asked why McNamee had thought that, he said he had overheard a conversation Clemens had with another player, Jose Canseco, but could not provide specifics.
McNamee said he believed Clemens had already made up his mind, and he administered the shot to make sure it was done correctly to avoid a potential infection.
“I made a mistake,” McNamee said.
At one juncture, when McNamee’s start-and-stop answers and clarifications stalled Hardin’s momentum, Hardin blurted out in frustration what will probably be the line of questioning when the cross-examination continues Thursday.
Hardin needs to portray McNamee as a liar, a forger and a substance abuser with two convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol who was “at the end of his rope” emotionally and financially when he made his accusations about Clemens to Mitchell’s investigators.
“Do you sometimes just make stuff up?” Hardin said.