Most convincing witness was the one who wasn't there

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said on Wednesday he sees holes in Roger Clemens' denials, but those inconsistencies aren't what makes him think the pitching icon isn't telling the truth about his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The clincher, Cummings said, is Andy Pettitte.

"Basically, I had Mr. Pettitte, who is religious -- very religious," Cumming said after the hearing. "Keep in mind, Mr. Pettitte told the committee things that we didn't even know about [injecting himself with human growth hormone]. Why? Because he felt bad. He felt guilty. His conscience was bothering him. And then to have Mr. Clemens verify that this guy is a very honest guy -- you can't do much better than that."

In a sworn deposition given to committee lawyers, Pettitte said that, in 1999 or 2000, Clemens "told me that he had taken HGH." Coming from a person who is a close friend of Clemens – a hunting buddy and training partner who are both represented by the same Houston-based sports agency – Cumming said Pettitte's testimony made him the most compelling figure at the hearing, even though he wasn't in the room. At his own request, Pettitte was excused from appearing at the hearing.

As Cummings weighed the testimony and sworn statements, he said he realized Pettitte had no motive to be lying and no reason to hurt his friend beyond his desire to tell the truth.

Brian McNamee, the former personal trainer who shared top billing with Clemens on Capitol Hill, had told federal investigators as well as investigators for baseball's Mitchell report that he injected Clemens, Pettitte and former Yankees infielder Chuck Knoblauch with HGH. Clemens and his legal team have vehemently denied the claim, and Clemens denied it again under oath on Wednesday.

In his deposition, Knoblauch confirmed McNamee's allegation that he received the injections from the trainer, and added that he later injected himself with HGH. Pettitte's deposition, too, backed up McNamee's allegations about his own use of HGH, and also said that Clemens had told him he had used HGH.

Said Pettitte: "I have to tell you all the truth . . . And one day I have to give an account to God and not to nobody else of what I've done in my life. And that's why I've said and shared the stuff . . . that I wouldn't like to share with y'all."

Pettitte said he told his wife, Laura, about the conversation with Clemens soon after it happened at Clemens' gym in Memorial, Texas. In a separate affidavit, Laura Pettitte confirmed that her husband had told her about his talk with Clemens.

Cummings warned Clemens repeatedly during his questioning about Pettitte's deposition, saying "You understand you're under oath? You understand what that means?"

Clemens said he did.

When asked if Pettitte's recollection was correct, Clemens said firmly, "It is not."

Throughout the questioning, Clemens said several times that Pettitte "misremembers."

"I thought Andy Pettitte's affidavit basically favored Mr. McNamee," Cummings said. "The other thing that favored Mr. McNamee is it turns out he is telling the truth about Knoblauch and Pettitte. And [Clemens] backed Mr. Pettitte to the ultimate degree. So, to me, that was just a no-brainer.

"He says Pettitte is a very honest man, very religious. But then when [Pettitte] says something that may be against Mr. Clemens, it is suddenly, 'Well, maybe he was mistaken.' Keep in mind, Pettitte was very consistent. Not only that, he told his wife. And his wife presents an affidavit."

Mike Fish is an investigative reporter for ESPN.com. He can be reached at michaeljfish@gmail.com.