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Perjury Trial For Roger Clemens Heats Up



The Roger Clemens perjury trial continues tomorrow. And for a sixth day, the prosecution's star witness will be back on the stand. Brian McNamee, Clemen's one-time trainer, is the only witness who has directly linked the former baseball pitcher to steroid use. Clemens, of course, is a seven-time Cy Young Award winner who's accused of lying to Congress when he denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs.

Joining me now is NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg who has been covering the trial. Nina, what is happening tomorrow that's different from what's been happening in the past week?

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Why is this day different from all other days? Well, the prosecution on redirect is going to try to salvage McNamee whose credibility was pretty well shredded in more than two days of cross-examination. He admitted to lying to federal prosecutors and to the Mitchell Commission and to changing his story repeatedly.

He admitted that he was asking Clemens for all kinds of personal favors like game and rock concert tickets even as he was talking to federal investigators. And even in the course of this trial, he's changed his testimony about all manner of details related to his story. He's remained unshakable, however, about one thing - and it's the most important thing - that he injected Roger Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone over a period of three years.

RAZ: And now, Nina, as I understand it, McNamee has some corroboration for that testimony. I mean, that's the physical evidence that he produced - syringes, cotton balls, gauze that has Clemens' DNA on it and traces of steroids.

TOTENBERG: That's where the prosecution really ran into difficulty on Friday. We always knew there was a chain of custody problem with the physical evidence because McNamee said he kept all this stuff for seven years in a box in his house and only in 2008, very belatedly, turned it over to investigators.

But on Friday, under cross-examination, he admitted that the needles and cotton balls that he says he kept from the Clemens injections were all mixed up with needles and cotton balls from other players and even from injections that McNamee gave himself.

At one point, defense lawyer Rusty Hardin put up the government's photo of all this material and asked McNamee to circle all the items that he did not think came from Clemens. And when McNamee was done, almost everything in the photo was circled as not from Clemens.

The testimony sufficiently undermined the physical evidence that I would imagine the defense will move to have it actually struck from the record as reliable. Now, they probably won't succeed, but they're probably going to try.

RAZ: So I gather that you don't think the case is going particularly well for the government that is trying to prosecute Roger Clemens.

TOTENBERG: We can never tell what a jury is thinking, but the government basically has three big pieces of evidence against Clemens. One is McNamee. His credibility is shredded. The second is the physical evidence. That's now very much under a cloud. And the third was Andy Pettitte, Clemens' friend who said that he thought he understood Clemens to tell him at one point when they were working out together that he, Clemens, had used human growth hormone. Well, when he came to testify, he said that maybe he did misunderstand, that the odds were 50-50 that he misunderstood, and those aren't very good odds.

RAZ: Indeed. That's NPR's legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg who is covering the Roger Clemens perjury trial. Nina, thank you so much.

TOTENBERG: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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