Maneuvers brewing before hearing

January 17, 2008 8:08:51 PM PST
A lawyer for Roger Clemens' accuser was told by a congressional committee staff member that his client was unlikely to be granted immunity for his deposition and testimony.As the sides moved ahead with preparations for the Feb. 13 hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Clemens added a former lawyer for President Clinton to his legal team.

Brian McNamee, the former personal trainer who accused the seven-time Cy Young Award winner of using performance-enhancing drugs, reached an agreement with San Francisco-based federal prosecutors last year that he would not be charged with a crime as long as his statements were truthful. McNamee's claims were a central part of last month's Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball.

Earl Ward, McNamee's lawyer, has been seeking a similar agreement with the House committee, which has asked Clemens and McNamee to testify. Before the hearing, the committee plans to take depositions from the pair along with three other witnesses: pitcher Andy Pettitte, former Yankee Chuck Knoblauch and ex-Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, who has admitted supplying players with performance-enhancing drugs.

Ward said he spoke Thursday with Michael Gordon, a committee staffer.

"I told them that we would still like immunity," Ward said. "They said that rarely happens. And I said, 'Look, it's important that Brian be there, Brian be heard.' That if you don't grant immunity, then you need to work out a solution that would allow him to testify."

Ward said he and Gordon discussed how the statute of limitations had expired for much of the activity McNamee described. However, the government can get around that in cases where it claims there is an ongoing conspiracy.

"We talked about that, as well," Ward said.

Jose Canseco asked for immunity before his 2005 testimony in front of the committee but his request was turned down.

Lanny Breuer joined Clemens' legal team Thursday, said Joe Householder, a spokesman for Rusty Hardin, Clemens' primary lawyer. Breuer, co-chair of Covington & Burling's white collar defense and investigations practice group, was an assistant district attorney in Manhattan from 1985-89 and special counsel to Clinton from 1997-99, working during the impeachment hearings and trial, and independent counsel investigations.

"We're delighted to have a lawyer of Lanny's ability join Roger's team as we move forward in trying to work constructively with the congressional committee," Hardin said.

The committee is in talks with Clemens' lawyers about the format for Clemens' pre-hearing testimony, negotiations that should be resolved within a few days, a committee staff member familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because an agreement has yet to reached. The staff member characterized the talks as agreeable.

The sides are trying to determine whether Clemens will submit to a deposition -- under oath -- or an interview, the staff member said. There also were discussions about the release of a transcript, which would be done in either circumstance.

Also, Harris County District Court Judge Grant Dorfman in Texas gave Clemens' lawyers permission to serve McNamee by mail in the pitcher's defamation suit against his former trainer. McNamee told Mitchell he injected Clemens at least 16 times with steroids and human growth hormone in 1998, 2000 and 2001. Clemens has denied the accusation.

Clemens' lawyers said they tried 12 times unsuccessfully to serve McNamee personally.

"At no point had Brian ever avoided service," Ward said.

Rusty Hardin, Clemens' lawyer, has argued the opposite.

"You might find the motion seeking substituted service

interesting in light of the public comments of Mr. McNamee's legal counsel," Hardin said.

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