WASHINGTON — Brian McNamee finally got to name names in front of the jury. Andy Pettitte. Chuck Knoblauch. Mike Stanton.
Roger Clemens’ accuser also apologized for the medical condition that caused him to take frequent breaks. He came across as a sympathy figure Monday in the final moments of some 26 hours on the stand, a small counterweight to three days of brutal cross-examination.
The government’s case got a needed boost as it hit the homestretch Monday in the sixth week of the perjury trial that will determine whether Clemens lied to Congress in 2008 when the 11-time All-Star pitcher denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
McNamee, Clemens’ former strength coach, is the only person to claim firsthand knowledge of Clemens using steroids and human growth hormone, and his integrity and credibility were attacked relentlessly last week by Clemens’ lawyer.
The government embarked on a rehabilitation job with its key witness during follow-up questioning Monday, then moved on to a beer expert who put a date on the infamous Miller Lite can that became a key piece of evidence and a witness who placed Clemens at a pool party at Jose Canseco’s house in 1998.
Before Monday, McNamee had not been allowed to say that he provided former Clemens teammates Pettitte and Knoblauch with human growth hormone, or that he helped ex-Clemens teammate Mike Stanton obtain HGH from drug dealer Kirk Radomski. The judge had ruled that such information could prejudice the jury against Clemens.
But Hardin’s grueling cross-examination tipped the balance in the other direction, prosecutors argued. Hardin suggested before the jury last week that McNamee had solely or primarily targeted Clemens, and that no one had been charged in connection with McNamee’s accusations, raising the issue of McNamee’s credibility.
Walton therefore ruled that McNamee could name Knoblauch and Stanton as receiving HGH in 2001 when they were with the Yankees, and Pettitte in 2002 when he was also with the Yankees. The judge instructed the jury that the names could only be used to help establish McNamee’s “credibility as a witness” and cannot be used to “infer Mr. Clemens’ guilt.”
While the defense got McNamee to acknowledge that parts of his story have changed over time, he has not deviated from the core of his testimony – that he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing substances in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
One of the charges against Clemens is that he obstructed Congress when he stated in a deposition that he “was not at Jose Canseco’s house on or about June 9, 1998.” That’s the date McNamee says he saw Clemens and Toronto Blue Jays teammate Canseco talking to a third person at a pool party, a person McNamee said he felt had a connection to steroids. McNamee said he first injected Clemens with steroids a few days later.
So the government called Alexander Lowrey, who said he was at the party as a starry-eyed 11-year-old boy and posed for photos with both Clemens and Canseco.
Clemens’ lawyer tried to play with the potentially faulty memory Lowrey might have of a party that happened 14 years ago. He couldn’t remember some details and said he had to estimate the times he arrived and left, but he said he had a clear memory of meeting the two major leaguers.