WASHINGTON (AP) – Brian McNamee, the chief prosecution witness in the Roger Clemens perjury trial, conceded Thursday he initially lied about his involvement with steroids.
In January 2007, McNamee sent an email to Jim Murray, an employee of the agency that represents Clemens, complaining about “gross inaccuracies” in a newspaper story that identified him as a steroids supplier. He also claimed in the email he had been assured by Jeff Novitzky, at the time an Internal Service Revenue agent investigating drug use in sports, that McNamee was not named in a search warrant affidavit referenced in the story.
“It was a lie wasn’t it?” Clemens lawyer Rusty Hardin said.
“Yes,” McNamee said, adding, “It was just self-preservation.”
In fact, McNamee didn’t have any contact with Novitzky until several months later.
Hardin also highlighted an email that McNamee sent to Clemens around that time.
“Explain to the jury about how you would write emails to the supposed co-crook with you … professing your innocence?” the lawyer demanded.
“It was to explain to Roger I had his back, and I wasn’t going to rat him out,” explained McNamee, Clemens former long-time strength and conditioning coach.
Clemens is on trial for allegedly lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied using steroids or human growth hormone. McNamee testified he injected the former pitcher multiples times in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
Hardin also tried to get McNamee to admit that he never told Clemens he was discussing the pitcher’s alleged drug use with federal authorities. McNamee said that Clemens never asked.
“How could he ask if he didn’t know?” Hardin demanded.
“How could I answer if he didn’t ask?” McNamee replied.
“You’re serious?” Hardin said.
Also Thursday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton told lawyers out of earshot of the jury that some jurors had wondered how long the trial, now in its fifth week, will last.
“At this pace, I’ll guess we’ll be here forever,” the judge said.
A prosecutor said he expected to finish the case by the end of next week — or at the latest early the following week. He said the government had 14 more witnesses after McNamee.
“Fourteen additional witnesses?” Walton said incredulously.
After the government’s case, the defense then brings its own witnesses if it chooses to.
Walton said that the case is dragging on too long, and that jurors want to get back to their lives. He warned that one side could suffer — although he didn’t know which one.
“Like flipping a coin — 50/50,” Walton quipped, a reference to former Clemens’ teammate Andy Pettitte’s testimony in the trial. Pettitte testified earlier that Clemens said he used HGH, but under cross-examination agreed there was a 50/50 chance he might have misunderstood Clemens.
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