Roger Clemens' attorney: Maybe Rocket was at Jose Canseco's party
BY TERI THOMPSON, MICHAEL O'KEEFFE, NATHANIEL VINTON and CHRISTIAN RED
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITERS
Saturday, February 23rd 2008
Roger Clemens may be backpedaling on his long-time stance that he never attended a 1998 party at Jose Canseco's house.
In the wake of the Daily News' report Friday that a photograph exists of Clemens posing with a young man at Canseco's Florida home - a photo said to have been taken on June 9, 1998 - the Rocket's attorney issued a statement that seems to suggest Clemens may have attended the party after all.
Brian McNamee, Clemens' former trainer, has told federal investigators and Congress that Clemens was at the party and talked about steroid use with Canseco, while the seven-time Cy Young Award winner has vehemently disputed such claims. Clemens reiterated those denials before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week. Canseco likewise submitted an affidavit to the committee that corroborates the Rocket's version of events.
In his testimony before Congress, Clemens told ranking member Tom Davis (R-Va.), "So could I have gone by (Canseco's) house later that afternoon and dropped my wife or her brother-in-law, the people that golfed with me? Sure, I could have. But at the time of the day that I would have expressed it to be, I was on my way to the ballpark. I know one thing. I wasn't there having huddled up with somebody trying to do a drug deal. I know that for sure."
Clemens attorney Rusty Hardin issued a statement Friday that in part reverses course. "We know that baseball announcers broadcasting the games at the time said Roger was not at the party. Jose Canseco has said Roger was not at the party, as has Canseco's former wife. Roger was playing golf at the time of the party, and has stated that he may have stopped by the Canseco house after playing golf before heading to the ballpark for the game," read Hardin's statement.
The proof Clemens attended may also lie in photographs from the party. As The News first reported, McNamee attorney Richard Emery was informed of the existence of the photograph that allegedly shows Clemens and the young man at Canseco's home. Emery also told The News a second photograph exists, showing Canseco posing with the same boy on the same day.
"I don't know anything about it. No one's talked to me or Jose. No one's said anything about it. We don't know the validity of (the photos)," Robert Saunooke, the attorney for Canseco, told The News on Friday. "There's no doubt that Roger Clemens has been to Jose's house. But the question was (about) this particular date for a barbecue and that didn't happen. You can take a picture of me every day of the week and I can say, 'This is one day and that's another.' How are you going to tell which day you took the photo of me?"
According to Emery, the photos in question have been turned over to federal investigators and Congress. Emery told The News that McNamee's lawyers, including Earl Ward, were called by the father of the boy in the photo following the Feb. 13 hearing in which Clemens faced off against McNamee. The boy was about 11 at the time the photo was taken.
The father of the boy informed McNamee's lawyers that he was frustrated by the attacks on McNamee, particularly those of committee member Dan Burton (R-Ind.), who repeatedly called McNamee a liar. The man told the lawyers about the photo of his son, and also that he had contacted Hardin before the hearing.
"I find it interesting that it was offered to Hardin on Feb. 12 - and he walked away from it, probably because he didn't want any contradictory evidence that showed Clemens was at the party," Emery said.
Emery has not seen the photos himself, but gave the information he learned about them to Congress and to IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky, the lead investigator in the BALCO steroids case. The Justice Department could investigate Clemens for perjury and any such photographic evidence could prove damning if it's valid.
According to Emery, the boy’s father told McNamee’s lawyers that he wants to keep his son, who is now a college baseball player and is draft-eligible, out of the controversy.