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Witness against Roger Clemens: "Who's Roger Clemens?"

Yesterday we heard that the feds have subpoenaed a guy named Jeff Blair, who allegedly had the steroids goods on Roger Clemens. Last night, the guy said otherwise:

A former gym owner in the Houston area says he never supplied Roger Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs and is looking forward to meeting with a grand jury investigating whether Clemens lied to Congress . . .

. . . Blair said Thursday night that he's never met Clemens, any members of the Clemens' family or anyone representing Clemens, including personal trainers or attorneys.

"I did not supply Roger Clemens (with) growth hormone," Blair said.


(a) The feds forgot that the purpose of subpoenaing witnesses to a grand jury is to obtain evidence that helps their case, rather than hurts their case;

(b) The feds knew that, but realized all along that they really don't have a case at all and simply don't want the grand jury to feel like it was convened for nothing; or

(c) This Blair guy was going to spill the beans on Clemens, but then Clemens and his lawyer showed up in the back of the hearing room with Blair's long lost brother from Sicily -- Godfather II-style -- after which Blair decided to trot out this "I never knew no godfather. I got my own family, senator" business.

Though the Godfather fan in me hopes that the Pentangeli option is really what happened, I'm leaning (b) here. Sure, as is the case with Barry Bonds I personally I think that Clemens did steroids and lied about it, but I also think that for several reasons a perjury prosecution of these two guys is both difficult and ill-advised.

In neither case -- Bonds before the grand jury or Clemens before Congress -- did you have prosecutors actually asking concise questions with an aim at truly figuring out what these guys knew. To the contrary, they were exercises in P.R., and because of that the questions that were actually asked to these men and the facts the questioners had at their disposal were lazy and weak.

Go read the transcripts: Bonds played dumber than a bag of hammers, despite the fact that he's actually a fairly bright guy. Clemens went on and on about his life story whenever he was asked anything difficult. Neither was given particularly difficult questions which they were required to answer in an unambigious fashion. To the contrary, each was allowed to talk openly and loosely for long stretches at a time.

Which may very well establish that they were being evasive. In order to make a case of perjury, however, showing evasiveness is not enough. A witness needs to be nailed down. To be given hard and unambiguous followup questions. Neither of these guys faced any of those things during their day in the spotlight, and their answers can be spun and qualified in many ways by their lawyers.

That's a black mark against the prosecution, and in light of it I'd be shocked if either Bonds or Clemens ever go to trial, let alone gets convicted of perjury.