(Updates with House spokeswoman’s comment in second paragraph.)
Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Congress released audio of a 2008 deposition of Roger Clemens that his lawyers argued was needed to defend the ex-New York Yankees pitcher against charges he lied to lawmakers about use of performance-enhancing drugs.
A House resolution releasing the recording to the prosecutors, who will make them available to Clemens’s attorneys, passed on a voice vote earlier today, said Salley Wood, a spokeswoman for the House Administration Committee.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton chastised lawmakers last year during Clemens’s original trial for withholding the audio, saying failure to make it available could compromise the defense, potentially affecting appeals if the seven-time record Cy Young Award winner were convicted. That proceeding ended in a mistrial. Clemens’s retrial is scheduled to begin on April 17.
“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 July 6 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, argued last year 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.
Clemens’s attorneys argued in court last year that the transcript wasn’t sufficient. The tape was necessary to understand the tone and context of the questions and Clemens’s answers, according to the attorneys, led by Rusty Hardin, a Houston-based criminal defense attorney.
The only way the tapes could be released was by a resolution of the House.
Hardin, like everyone involved in the case, is under a gag order barring him from any comments outside of court. He declined to discuss the release of the audio.
Clemens, 49, 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.
The case is U.S. v. Clemens, 10-cr-00223, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
--Editors: Fred Strasser, Peter Blumberg
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