Bloomberg News

Congress Refuses to Release Audio of Clemens’s Deposition

July 06, 2011

(Updates with possible ballplayer witnesses from tenth paragraph.)

July 6 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Congress refused to release audio of a 2008 deposition of Roger Clemens, a decision that a federal judge said might compromise the ex-Yankees pitcher’s perjury prosecution at a later stage in the case.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, chastising lawmakers for failing to provide the recording, said Clemens’s trial on charges of lying to Congress, which began today, will move ahead without it. He said he wasn’t sure how the absence of the recording might affect any appeals if the seven-time record Cy Young Award winner is convicted.

“It doesn’t look good for our government” that Congress won’t produce the audio of the deposition when the criminal referral for Clemens’s prosecution came from Congress itself, Walton said today in federal court in Washington.

Ten of the 15 statements on which the obstruction of Congress charges are based came from testimony Clemens gave during his Feb. 5, 2008, deposition, according to the indictment.

William Pittard, assistant counsel to the House of Representatives, said in court that the transcript of the deposition constitutes the “official” record, while the audio recording is a “backup” and the property of Congress protected by the Constitution’s speech and debate clause. Pittard said his office never received a formal request for the recording from either prosecutors or the defense.

House Resolution

The only way it can be released is by a resolution of the House, he said.

Michael Attanasio, one of Clemens’s attorneys, declined to comment on the issue of the audio outside of court.

Clemens, 48, is charged with one count of obstructing a congressional investigation, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury in connection with a congressional probe of the use of performance-enhancing drugs by ballplayers. If convicted on all charges, he faces a $1.5 million fine and as long as 30 years in prison.

Jury selection began today and opening statements are scheduled for next week.

Prosecutors named in court more than 80 people whom they plan to call as witnesses or refer to during the trial. They include former St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire, current Yankees designated hitter Jorge Posada, and Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman.

Lawyers for Clemens list more than 30 people who may be called. They include former Yankees pitcher David Cone, Hall of Famer Wade Boggs and Phil Garner, a former major-league player and manager.

The case is U.S. v. Clemens, 10-cr-00223, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

--Editors: Fred Strasser, Glenn Holdcraft

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in federal court in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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