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Conventional wisdom might have the Roger Clemens defense team hiring a well-connected Washington, D.C., lawyer now that the pitching great has been indicted, but attorney Rusty Hardin brushed aside the possibility Friday.
Hardin, Clemens' lead attorney since he was connected to performance-enhancing drugs in the 2008 Mitchell report, told ESPN.com that San Diego-based defense attorney Michael Attanasio is joining him as co-counsel. Attanasio is partner in the firm Cooley Godward Kronish -- which also has a Washington office -- and served as federal prosecutor in Washington from 1991-99.
The Clemens team included prominent Washington attorney Lanny Breuer when the seven-time Cy Young winner appeared before a congressional committee in 2008 and denied having used performance-enhance drugs, which led to his indictment Thursday on six counts. Shortly after, Breuer was nominated by President Barrack Obama as assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's criminal division, overseeing all 93 U.S. attorneys -- including the prosecutor in Washington.
"Everybody wants to say we should have a Washington lawyer, and they may be right," said Hardin, noting his Houston office has been besieged by calls from attorneys inside the Beltway. "But Mike was with the DOJ [Department of Justice] for eight years out of Washington and he knows his way around there.
"I've got to say, though, this is the first case I've ever been criticized as roundly and second-guessed as much. So I think I want to keep everybody where they feel comfortable second-guessing us and talking about how little we know."Clemens told radio station WEEI in Boston that he is looking forward to having his say in court. "I'm not going to get into details," said Clemens, who spoke with the station Friday during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Telethon. "All I'm going to say is that I learned a lot through what happened, and what did not happen. We're going to deal with it. I don't know what else to say. We're going to deal with it and have our day." Clemens was asked if he was taken by surprise by Thursday's federal indictment. "It wasn't really a surprise," he said. "I got my eyes opened up quite a bit ... I sent it out in a Tweet, thought that was the best way to go about it." Asked if he was worried about not making the Hall of Fame, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner said, "I didn't play the game to go to the Hall of Fame. It's a tremendous honor. I played the game because I was taking care of my family."
Hardin said he had no forewarning prior to the federal indictment being handed down Thursday, though he indicated Clemens had rejected what he termed a "very fair offer" from the government in return for pleading guilty several months ago. He said Clemens is expected to make an initial appearance in Washington over the next couple weeks.
The attorney went on to good-naturedly take exception to media pundits who have increasingly questioned his defense of Clemens, particularly those suggesting he should have accepted a plea deal rather than be facing a federal trial and potentially further damage to his image. Hardin reserved his harshest criticism for former Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, who was on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that held the hearings on performance-enhancings drugs.Hardin called Davis a "hypocrite" for continuing to imply Clemens had insisted upon testifying for the congressional committee.
"The government made a recommendation [for a plea agreement] and we declined," Hardin said. "I will tell you the recommendation they made was a very good one if he was guilty. And if he was guilty we would have jumped on it. Everybody has all this great solicitous advice, all the media and you guys -- ESPN. Nobody is answering the question: What if he didn't do it, what should he have done? And everybody wants him to confess.
"I have even heard people suggest that even if he didn't do it he should have said he did so that everybody will move on. That is a helluva commentary."
Hardin reiterated he and his staff have drilled Clemens on the need to fess up, if he did steroids or human growth hormone.
"He's been told from the beginning if he did it he ought to do exactly what Andy [Pettitte] did. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that. And everybody assumes it is his arrogance and his ego that kept him from doing it.
"He wasn't the greatest witness before Congress, I understand that. But I got to tell you, we've sat on him probably for 100 of our hours over the last two-and-a-half years, always with the same thing: 'If you did it, the best thing to do is just admit it and move on and we'll deal with it.' He has never, ever wavered."
Clemens, 48, has steadfastly stood by his position that he didn't use performance-enhancers. He and his former trainer, Brian McNamee, offered conflicting stories to investigators for the Mitchell report, which led to their being invited to Washington to appear before congressional committee probing drugs in sport.
At the 2008 hearing, Clemens and McNamee offered contradictory testimony under oath about whether the pitcher had used PEDs. The position of McNamee was strengthened by a sworn statement from Pettitte, Clemens' friend and former teammate, saying Clemens had acknowledged to him having used human growth hormone. Pettitte wasn't required to testify at the hearing, however, and Clemens said his friend "misremembered" their conversation.Clemens told WEEI on Friday he does not talk to Pettitte.
Hardin lashed out Friday at Davis, who at the time was the top Republican on the committee that held the hearing. He accused Davis of skewing the facts by continuing to portray Clemens as pushing to appear before the committee hearing. Instead, he says Clemens would have been subpoenaed if he hadn't voluntarily appeared in Washington and the committee was preparing to ask the Department of Justice to investigate before he testified.
"Let me tell you what a hypocrite he is," said Hardin, referring to Davis. "The week before the public hearings we give a deposition. So when they say Roger demanded a hearing -- he didn't demand a hearing. Everybody finished their depositions. Waxman [Rep. Henry Waxman, a Democrat and committee chairman] is getting a lot of pressure at that stage from the Democrats. We're going around to all their offices. Nobody wanted a hearing.
"On Friday afternoon [four days before the hearing], Waxman gets the affidavit from Andy [Pettitte] that has Andy more definite than he was in his deposition. And in return for that he tells Andy he doesn't have to testify.
"Then they announce to us at 3 o'clock that Friday, 'Roger can decline to testify if he wants to and we won't have the hearing. We'll just issue a majority [Democratic] report. And the minority, the minority [Republican] is saying to us staff, 'Here is what [Waxman] is going to do. What they're going to do is hammer [Clemens]. They're going to refer him to Justice.' So nobody would have heard Roger [if he didn't appear at the hearing].
"So Tom Davis, who I saw on TV last night, comes down to us, calls us aside and urges us to have Roger testify. And now that son-of-a-bitch is on TV saying that Roger insisted upon it."Mike Fish is an investigative reporter for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.