WASHINGTON — Amid his year-by-year narrative of his complex relationship with Roger Clemens and performance-enhancing drugs, Brian McNamee weaved in a tale of two wives. He said it was his own wife who nagged him into keeping evidence that has become crucial in the trial of the storied pitcher, and it was a request from Clemens’ wife that led to what McNamee called a “creepy” injection scene in a bathroom.
Clemens’ longtime strength coach testified Tuesday for a second day in the perjury trial, pushing his running total to roughly 10 hours on the stand, including the first few moments of what portends to be a grueling cross-examination that will continue Wednesday. The broad outline was familiar from McNamee’s previous statements: He said he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone in 2000 and with steroids in 2001, and he gave Debbie Clemens a shot of HGH in 2003. That was in addition to the testimony he gave Monday, when he spoke of a series of steroids injections he said he gave Clemens in 1998, when he was pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays.
He went on to describe his marital problems, money problems and the legal mess that came about when he got entangled in the federal drugs-in-sports investigation that led him to become a reluctant but cooperating witness against one of the most successful baseball players of all time.
“It destroyed me. It killed me. … I put myself in a situation where I had to do this,” McNamee said. “I had to tell the truth.”
Some details were new and fascinating, especially hearing them spoken out loud in a courtroom with Clemens sitting a few feet away. At one dramatic point, the adversaries were actually both standing, when McNamee rose from the witness stand and identified Clemens with an outstretched left arm: “He’s right there with the brown tie.” Clemens looked straight at McNamee, stone-faced and silent.
McNamee is far and away the government’s key witness, the only person who will claim firsthand knowledge of Clemens taking performance-enhancing drugs. The former baseball great is accused of lying when he told Congress in 2008 that he had never used steroids or HGH.
McNamee again gave vivid and colorful details about injections. He appeared less nervous than he did on Monday, and his voice rose as he spoke of marital problems that he said developed in part because of his relationship with Clemens. The time away from home training Clemens meant McNamee didn’t have time to take his wife and children to water parks and other family outings, he said, and his wife was concerned that her husband would become a fall guy at Clemens’ expense.
“You’re going to go down! You’re going to go down! You’re going to go down!” Brian McNamee said his wife, Eileen, told him in the “middle of a battle royale” argument.
McNamee said he thought “she might be right,” so he kept the needle, swab and cotton ball from a steroids injection he said took place in Clemens’ New York City apartment in 2001. He said he put the items in a beer can that he salvaged from the recycling bin in Clemens’ kitchen — a means of protecting the used needle from accidently stabbing himself — and brought the can home. It was put in a FedEx box and kept in the house, an effort to “keep the home front nice and smooth,” McNamee said.
Years later, McNamee and his wife began divorce proceedings, which are ongoing.
In his 2008 congressional deposition, McNamee said he also kept the leftover waste from the injection because he distrusted Clemens “to a degree.” He didn’t mention that reason on the stand Tuesday.
McNamee said he kept the evidence a secret — even when he was telling investigators about injections he gave pro baseball players — because he was hoping he could minimize the impact on Clemens. It wasn’t until 2008, after McNamee was angered by a news conference at which Clemens’ lawyers played a taped phone call that contained medical details about McNamee’s oldest son, that McNamee retrieved his collection of medical waste and turned it in.
It was “beyond inhuman to do that to a kid,” McNamee said. “He had nothing to do with steroids in baseball, my son.”
The prosecution is expected to show that the evidence contains Clemens’ DNA. The defense has called the evidence “garbage” and is expected to claim it is tainted.
McNamee said Debbie Clemens, whom McNamee described as a “fitness enthusiast,” started asking about HGH during one of McNamee’s regular multiday visits to train Clemens at the pitcher’s home in Houston in 2003. On a later visit, he said Roger Clemens summoned him to the couple’s master bathroom, where McNamee said Clemens’ wife lifted her shirt so she could receive an injection near the belly button.
McNamee said he felt “creepy” because of the setting and because it was his friend’s wife. According to McNamee, Debbie looked at her husband, and said, “I can’t believe you’re going to let him do this to me,” and Clemens responded, “He injects me, why can’t he inject you?”
Later in 2003, Roger and Debbie Clemens appeared together in a photo for the annual swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated.
While McNamee said Clemens was present for the injection, Clemens has said he was not. One of the false charges Clemens is alleged to have made to Congress is that McNamee injected his wife without Clemens’ prior knowledge or approval.
McNamee also frustrated the Clemens team by implying several times that he supplied Clemens’ friend and ex-teammate Andy Pettitte with performance-enhancing drugs, a fact that the judge has ruled can’t be uttered before the jurors because it might prejudice them against Clemens. While the jury was on a break, defense lawyer Michael Attanasio said McNamee’s references to Pettitte were “shameful” and asked that it “stop and stop right now.”
“He needs to be told again,” U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said, “not to make any reference to Mr. Pettitte.”
The defense is expected to attack McNamee’s integrity and motives, and Clemens lawyer Rusty Hardin offered a brief taste during 10 minutes of cross-examination before the trial recessed for the day. Hardin suggested that McNamee purposefully wore a tie with a logo to a grand jury appearance in 2010 to advertise a company for financial gain. McNamee said he has no financial interest in the company and that he wore the tie because his other one was wrinkled.
“I needed a tie,” McNamee said matter of factly.
Even before Hardin got his turn, the government tried to pre-empt such questions by having its witness refer to several less-than-savory incidents. McNamee referenced false statements he gave to police during an investigation in Florida in 2001, and he spoke of financial worries resulting from a failed investment in a proposed new gym and his inability to find steady work after his name became publicly linked to steroids and HGH.
“I couldn’t get a job. I have to work for myself,” McNamee said. “I blame myself.”
The trial is in its fifth week, and the tedium cost the proceedings another member of the jury Tuesday. Juror No. 1, a supermarket cashier, became the second member of the panel to be dismissed for sleeping. Her departure leaves 14 jurors, including two alternates.