WASHINGTON (AP) — A short clip from Mike Wallace's "60 Minutes" interview with Roger Clemens in 2008 provided just enough ambiguity for the judge to rule it out, hurting the government's hopes of proving one piece of its case against the 11-time All-Star pitcher.
Lawyers for Clemens also laid down in writing their reasons to strike testimony from Andy Pettitte, while the jury on Monday heard federal agents discuss the handling of physical evidence and the trial entered its fourth week.
The crux of the trial focuses on whether Clemens lied to Congress when he said he had never used human growth hormone and steroids, but the government is also trying to prove numerous other alleged untruths from Clemens during a 2008 congressional hearing and the deposition that preceded it.
Among those other charges: That Clemens obstructed Congress when he said he "no idea" that former Sen. George Mitchell wanted to talk with him while putting together the landmark 2007 Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drug use in baseball. Clemens is named prominently in the report as having received steroids and HGH injections from his former strength coach, Brian McNamee.
Clemens said on "60 Minutes" that he didn't speak to Mitchell's investigators because his lawyer advised against it. Prosecutor Courtney Saleski said that contradicts what Clemens told Congress and that it's "just unbelievable" that Clemens didn't know of Mitchell's request.
But U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said it was possible Clemens was told generally by lawyers not to talk to Mitchell, without actually informing the pitcher that Mitchell wanted to talk to him. The judge also cited the subtle difference between Mitchell's "investigators" and Mitchell himself and then reiterated his overall concern that playing the clip could run afoul of Clemens' attorney-client privilege. The judge ruled the clip couldn't be played.
Meanwhile, the government is fighting against another potential setback regarding Pettitte, Clemens' former teammate and longtime friend. Pettitte conceded on the stand last week that there is a 50-50 chance he misunderstood a conversation 12 years ago when he thought he heard Clemens admit to using HGH.
Clemens' lawyers say that's too tenuous. They want the judge to tell the jury to ignore Pettitte's testimony about the conversation.
"The court should not allow the jury to consider an alleged 'admission' that has all the weight of a coin flip," Clemens' lawyers wrote in a filing.
The government is expected to respond with a filing of its own before the judge rules.