Sports

Clemens attorneys question Congress

Attorneys for former pitching ace Roger Clemens said Tuesday that they’ll challenge whether Congress had authority to hold a hearing on steroids that led to federal charges of perjury and lying against the former Yankees and Red Sox right-hander.

In a preview of the first line of defense on the eve of today’s opening statements in Washington, Clemens’ lawyer Michael Attanasio said the Feb. 13, 2008, House hearing on the conflicting stories of Clemens and his former trainer Brian McNamee wasn’t legitimate because it wasn’t about existing or potential legislation.

“A credibility contest between Mr. McNamee and Mr. Clemens about private transactions, even if they are controlled-substance transactions allegedly, unrelated to the legislation, is not the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry,” Attanasio said.

U.S. Attorney Daniel Butler replied that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which held the hearing, “has very broad jurisdiction as its title suggests. It’s not just a matter of legislation.”

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton made no ruling but said he was leaning toward the government’s view of congressional power.

Attanasio raised the issue as his defense team and prosecutors sifted through and chose a jury of 10 women and two men, and argued over instructions to jurors for the high-profile trial.

Clemens is charged with perjury, making false statements and obstructing Congress for lying repeatedly as he denied using steroids and human growth hormone at that 2008 House hearing.

Prosecutors and the defense today will outline their cases.

The defense tipped its strategy in a filing in which it cited a Supreme Court case that said a hearing needs a legislative purpose.

But that case was about a man subpoenaed for questions he didn’t want to answer. Clemens voluntarily appeared and answered questions.

Attanasio revealed that the prosecutors’ first two witnesses will be former House Parliamentarian Charles Johnson and Phil Barnett, the committee’s chief counsel during the hearing.

And he poked fun at the time Congress spent probing whether Clemens went to a barbecue at ballplayer Jose Canseco’s Florida home in 1998, at which they allegedly talked about steroids.

“Apparently we’re going to have a mini trial on whether Mr. Clemens was swimming on July 11, 1998,” Attanasio said. “But it’s not material to the due and proper exercise of Congress and it’s not material to this court’s inquiry about obstruction of justice.”

Meanwhile, Walton said that he was disturbed that relatives of Clemens had taken to the blogosphere to attack witnesses and others tied to the case. He was apparently referring to a New York Daily News story that pointed out that Clemens’s sister had attacked McNamee on Twitter.

METS SEND F-ROD TO BREWERS

The New York Mets ttraded closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers for two players to be named.

The deal was announced right after the All-Star Game ended.

The Mets also sent cash to Milwaukee.

DODGERS GET RIVERA FROM BLUE JAYS

The Toronto Blue Jays traded outfielder Juan Rivera, 33, to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for a player to be named or cash.

Rivera batted .243 with six home runs and 27 RBI in 70 games before being designated for assignment July 3.

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