Updated 4:38 p.m.
Slouched in his chair and speaking in a low voice, Brian McNamee presented himself as an unwilling participant in the high-profile probe of steroid use in Major League Baseball.
McNamee told jurors this afternoon in the perjury case against Roger Clemens that he had no choice but to tell the truth, as hard as it was, to federal agents. Prosecutors want to dispel any notion that McNamee was out to get Clemens.
The government’s chief witness against Clemens, McNamee also said he wasn't eager to speak with former U.S. Senator George Mitchell and his team of investigators, the group leading the probe of drugs in pro baseball. Mitchell, the former chairman of DLA Piper, published a report in Dec. 2007 that identified players, including Clemens, as having used performance enhancing drugs.
“I didn’t know how far this would go. I thought it was going to just come and go,” McNamee said on the witness stand this afternoon in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton. McNamee said he’d hoped the report would not name names.
McNamee first met with federal agents, including Jeff Novitzky of the Internal Revenue Service, in 2007. They wanted his help, he said, investigating drugs in baseball. McNamee agreed to cooperate with the government, and that meant he had to tell Mitchell and his team what he knew.
“I had no choice. I had no choice but to tell the truth,” McNamee recalled today. “It destroyed me. It killed me.” McNamee said he didn’t want to hurt Clemens, whom he described as a friend. He said he tried to minimize Clemens’ use of performance enhancing drugs.
In January 2008, McNamee turned over Clemens medical evidence — the needles and other items he'd stored for seven years in his basement — to his lawyer. Earlier today, he said he didn't keep the stuff stored in his house to confront Clemens years down the road.
McNamee said this afternoon he was enraged Clemens provided to the press a secretly recorded phone call that referenced a medical condition of McNamee’s son. After that Clemens news conference, McNamee said, he turned over the physical evidence to his lawyer.
McNamee’s testimony in the afternoon, his second day on the stand, was marred by allegations from Clemens’ defense lawyers that he was intentionally violating orders not to link Andy Pettitte’s drug use with that of Clemens.
Cooley partner Mike Attanasio, a lead attorney for Clemens, called McNamee's testimony "shameful."
Walton, early in the case, restricted the ability of prosecutors to associate drug use between Clemens and Pettitte, former teammates, fearing the jury would infer guilt by association. McNamee was the source of the human growth hormone that Pettitte freely admits he used.
Attanasio suggested in court that the Clemens defense team will ask Walton for a remedy. Clemens' lawyers, however, did not speculate on what they will ask the judge to do. Walton earlier in the day told prosecutors to tell McNamee not to talk about Pettitte's drug use.
There was another bump for the prosecution. When Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Butler started to ask McNamee about his 2008 congressional deposition and hearing testimony, Walton stopped the proceedings to address the lawyers. The judge sternly questioned, in front of the jury, whether the lawyers are not listening to his rulings.
Walton told the jurors to “totally disregard” McNamee’s deposition and his congressional testimony.
McNamee said later in the afternoon that the Mitchell report hurt his employment chances. Prospective employers, he said, didn't want media attention. "I don't really blame them," he said.
Cross-examination began late Tuesday with Rusty Hardin, Clemens' top lawyer, noting how "subdued" and "down" McNamee has appeared on the witness stand the past couple of days.
"Do you consider yourself a victim?" Hardin asked McNamee.
"A victim of my own doing," he said.