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Attorney: Roger Clemens opted to testify before Congress

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens and

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens and his lawyer Rusty Hardin, back left, leave Federal Court in Washington. (April 17, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

WASHINGTON -- Roger Clemens turned down a chance to avoid testifying at a public congressional hearing about accusations of steroid use just days before it took place four years ago, the former chief of staff for the committee that held the hearing testified Monday.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform decided following a series of depositions, including those of Clemens and his former trainer Brian McNamee, that the panel did not have to hold a hearing but instead could issue a report on its findings, House staffer Phil Barnett said.

But when presented with that option five days before the scheduled hearing, Clemens opted to appear before Congress because he didn't want to look like he wasn't willing to testify, Clemens' attorney, Rusty Hardin, said during his cross-examination of Barnett. Hardin noted that a report issued by the committee still could have led to the same perjury charges Clemens currently faces because the depositions were given under oath.

"Why do you need to issue a report now that you heard from everyone?" Hardin said he asked Barnett. Hardin said he suggested that instead the committee should just proclaim "victory on steroids" and hold a public event with Clemens to denounce drugs.

But the committee declined, Barnett said, because it felt compelled to follow through on its investigation into whether Clemens' denials called into question the validity of former Sen. George Mitchell's report on baseball's steroid problem.

Monday marked the opening of the third week of Clemens' trial on a six-count indictment on lying to Congress.

Clemens' attorneys Monday filed a redacted response to the government's motion on Friday that sought to limit how much McNamee could be questioned about his "prior bad acts." Both motions were initially filed under seal in March.

"McNamee's past also contains more dirt than a pitcher's mound," Hardin, who has said he will seek to undermine McNamee's credibility, wrote Monday in his response.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton ordered both sides to file their motions with redactions because several of the allegations stem from a 2010 divorce proceeding that remains under seal in New York.

However, passages that the defense blacked out in the electronic version of the motion appear in their entirety when the electronic version is copied into a Microsoft Word file, Newsday found Monday.

The passages include McNamee's ex-wife's accusations that he "secretly gained entry" into her home, that he had a substance abuse problem at the time he said he was injecting Clemens with steroids and that McNamee was involved in prescription drug fraud and distribution. McNamee, who is under a gag order by Walton, could not be reached for comment.

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