THE MITCHELL REPORT
Clemens attorney warned over tough talk
Hardin writes back to congressman, says comments were 'inelegant'
By BRIAN McTAGGART
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
The chairman for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said in a letter Sunday to Rusty Hardin, one of the attorneys for Roger Clemens, that comments Hardin made to the New York Times could be interpreted as trying to intimidate a federal law enforcement official.
Henry Waxman, D-Calif., urged Hardin to clarify comments attributed to him in Sunday's editions of the Times in which he said it would be "unbelievable" and "brazen" if federal agent and steroids investigator Jeff Novitzky attended the committee's scheduled Wednesday hearing on steroids in baseball.
Waxman wrote that Hardin's comments could be "seen as an attempt to intimidate a federal law enforcement official in the performance of his official duties."
In the article, Hardin also said: "I can tell you this: If he ever messes with Roger, Roger will eat his lunch."
Former trainer and Clemens accuser Brian McNamee has been cooperating with Novitzky and the Department of Justice, which has interest in the steroids case because it involved money laundering.
Also on Sunday, one of McNamee's lawyers said he believes the Justice Department will open an investigation into Clemens' denials of doping.
"I think there will be a criminal prosecution after Wednesday, and that means there will be grand jury proceedings and subsequent proceedings," said Richard Emery, one of McNamee's attorneys. "I don't see there's any possibility that Brian has any jeopardy. I only see the possibility of Clemens getting investigated by Justice, whether or not Congress refers it."
Hardin's remarks to the Times came after he was informed Novitzky planned to attend Wednesday's hearing, where Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch and McNamee are among those scheduled to testify under oath.
McNamee claimed in the Mitchell Report released in December that he injected Clemens 16 times with steroids and human growth hormone in 1998, 2000 and 2001, accusations Clemens has routinely denied. Pettitte has admitted McNamee injected him twice with human growth hormone to help in the recovery from an injury.
Hardin didn't immediately return a phone call from the Houston Chronicle on Sunday night. The Associated Press reported that Hardin wrote to Waxman late Sunday, saying his comments were ``inelegant'' and ``I regret it.'' Hardin said he meant that if Novitzky pursued legal action against Clemens he would lose, and the remarks were ``not meant as a threat of personal action against agent Novitzky.''
"Some of the previous comments by both you and the attorneys representing Mr. McNamee in recent weeks have struck me as inadvisable, but I have refrained from making any comment," Waxman wrote. "If (Saturday's) quotation is accurate, however, it goes beyond any personal enmity that exists between Roger Clemens and Mr. McNamee.
"I do not know your intent in making this statement, but under one interpretation it can be seen (as) an attempt to intimidate a federal law enforcement official in the performance of his official duties."
Waxman said he has never spoken to Novitzky and doesn't know if he plans on attending the hearing. Novitzky was at the Oversight Committee's hearing on steroids in baseball in 2005, when Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa testified.
"And as a witness in our independent investigation, it is not your client's prerogative to dictate who attends or does not attend the hearing," Waxman wrote. "Given your long service as both a prosecutor and a private attorney, I trust you did not intend your comments to be a signal that there could be adverse repercussions to a federal law enforcement official for attending the hearing or taking other official actions."