Holder cites conflict of interest

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric Holder has recused himself from any role in deciding whether to charge pitcher Roger Clemens with lying to Congress about steroids.

A federal grand jury in Washington is investigating whether Clemens lied when he told a congressional committee a year ago that he didn't use illegal performance-enhancing substances.

Clemens' former trainer, Brian McNamee, testified before the same committee and said he repeatedly injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone, known as HGH.

Holder "has always been recused" from the Clemens investigation, Justice Dept. spokesman Matt Miller said Wednesday. Before becoming attorney general, Holder worked at the firm Covington and Burling LLC, which had Clemens as a client.

As Clemens dealt with the congressional inquiry, one of the lawyers working for him was another prominent Covington attorney, Lanny Breuer. Breuer has since been nominated to become a top deputy of Holder's at the Justice Department, overseeing the criminal division.

Breuer also is expected to recuse himself from the Clemens matter.

Holder's recusal was first reported in Wednesday's editions of the New York Daily News.

The recusals by two of the most senior people in the Justice Department is unlikely to affect the Clemens case, which is being handed by the U.S. attorney's office in Washington and the local FBI field office.

It is not unusual for lawyers joining the government to take no part in matters in which they were directly involved during their previous jobs.

For Holder, the Clemens recusal marks the second high-profile matter he is avoiding, after taking himself out of discussions about the department's efforts to learn the identities of tens of thousands of U.S. account-holders with the Swiss bank UBS who may be dodging the IRS.

While in private practice, Holder did work for UBS in an unrelated case.