The attorney for Barry Bonds said Thursday he is prepared to go public with information that raises questions about the government's investigation of the baseball star unless interim U.S. Attorney Scott Schools takes what he deems appropriate action. A good place to start, he suggested, would be the dismissal of grand jury proceedings against Bonds.
Michael Rains, attorney for Bonds, declined to reveal what evidence of potential wrongdoing he's discovered, other than to confirm that he's provided some of the information to Schools in at least three letters since May. Schools has been in charge of the San Francisco office since February when his predecessor, Kevin Ryan, was among eight U.S. attorneys fired by Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez in what has resulted in a national controversy.
We've been going through all this stuff with the [San Francisco] Chronicle people saying when grand jury testimony gets leaked that the public has a right to know. Well, I'll echo what they've said, 'The public has the right to know.'
-- Bonds attorney Michael Rains
"The only thing I am going to tell you is the information I supplied him was not something under any circumstances that he could ignore,'' Rains told ESPN.com. "I'm hoping based on his review of and consideration of that information that we can have an announcement before long that will be a good announcement for Barry, anyway. And that will be that they do not intend to proceed with an indictment.
"It is one of those things where I am not going to be out there grandstanding if I can get him to do the right thing. I am respectful of the process. But we've been going through all this stuff with the [San Francisco] Chronicle people saying when grand jury testimony gets leaked that the public has a right to know. Well, I'll echo what they've said, 'The public has the right to know.' And the public has the right to know of the information I have given to Mr. Schools. And it has a right to know how the government has conducted itself here and I hope the government will engage in some dialogue with the media and the public to discuss this.''
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco declined comment.
Bonds might have the same response when baseball's steroid investigators come calling again.
While cautioning that no decision will be reached until the legal issue is resolved, Rains said it's increasingly unlikely of Bonds ever cooperating with MLB's investigation of steroid use being led by former Sen. George Mitchell.
Rains said he is disturbed by Commissioner Bud Selig's threat to suspend New York Yankee slugger Jason Giambi, another of the athletes tied to the BALCO case, if he failed to cooperate with Mitchell's probe. Rains suggested the likely grievances and legal wrangling will serve as a test case for what Bonds eventually might be confronted with.
"Will he talk? I don't know,'' Rains said. "One of the things that frankly worries me more now than it ever did before was looking at the press release when they indicted this Kirk Radomski [former New York Mets employee who pleaded guilty to distributing steroids to major-league players]. I'm seeing the federal government talking about their indictment and saying, 'Yeah, we really encourage Radomski to cooperate fully with Mr. Mitchell.'
"My thought was that Mitchell's investigation was proceeding independent of the feds and vice versa. And when I see the lines blurred there it makes me wonder whether or not Mitchell is kind of an agent of the government or vice versa here. And to the extent that I have no respect for and nothing but contempt for the government, it may not take me very long to develop the same feeling about Mr. Mitchell.''
Rains let his feelings flow about the government's handling of the Bonds case in his correspondence with Schools, the acting U.S. Attorney. Rains said he would be "absolutely shocked'' if Bonds were to be indicted, though cautioning he'd gotten no such assurances from Schools.
Bonds' attorney said he expects Schools to seriously consider the recent information provided him, adding that he told him he'd go public if he didn't act on it in a reasonable fashion. The desired response would include a very public clearing of Bonds.
"I would like him to come out and talk about why they have chosen not to indict Barry,'' Rains said. "I would like that much. Knowing the way they have operated, even this guy is terse. My guess would be even if we see that happening he'll probably come out through his press relations guy with some two line letter saying, 'Scott Schools announced today that he won't be seeking more indictments in the BALCO case. Goodbye.' And that may be all we hear from him. At which time, I think the public will hear from me.''
Mike Fish is an investigative reporter for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.