Former Sen. George Mitchell did not take kindly to Roger Clemens’ recent interview on "Undeniable with Joe Buck," in which the former Yankee pitcher called Mitchell and his report on baseball’s doping past "shameful," while also suggesting that Mitchell gave a referral fee to the former chairman of a congressional committee that Clemens testified before in 2008.
Mitchell, who now works for the private law firm DLA Piper, issued a statement Thursday after the "Undeniable with Joe Buck" interview with Clemens aired Wednesday night, and the former Maine senator slams Clemens’ comments as "false." Mitchell also said that he has never even met the seven-time Cy Young Award pitcher, despite several requests to interview the Rocket when Mitchell was compiling his report on baseball’s doping culture in 2007.
In the interview with Buck, Clemens said he "opened up my life to them," referring to Mitchell and his investigators. Mitchell was appointed by former baseball commissioner Bud Selig in 2006 to investigate performance-enhancing drug use in baseball, and the Mitchell Report was released in December 2007. Clemens was one of dozens of baseball players named in the report as having used PEDs during their baseball-playing career, and Clemens’ former trainer Brian McNamee told Mitchell and his investigators that he personally injected Clemens in 1998, when Clemens pitched for Toronto, and also between the years 2000-01, when the Rocket was with the Yankees.
"His comment referring to me, and then saying that he opened up his life and said ‘Come check what you want,’ is totally false," Mitchell said in his statement. "Under Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement I was required to make any request to talk or meet with any player through the Players Association. On July 13 and on October 22, 2007 I sent letters to the Players Association asking to meet with several players, including Mr. Clemens. On August 8 and on November 30, 2007, the Players Association responded in writing that all of the players, including Mr. Clemens, declined to speak with me. As a result of his refusal I have never met or spoken with Mr. Clemens, and his suggestion now to the contrary is a complete fabrication."
In the interview with Buck, Clemens also said that "they spent a lot of our taxpayers’ dollars," referring to Mitchell and his team, but Mitchell said not one penny of taxpayer money went into compiling the Mitchell Report.
"No taxpayer money was involved in my report. I was asked by the Commissioner of Baseball to conduct the investigation and was paid by Major League Baseball," said Mitchell. He added that Clemens’ comment in the Buck interview that Mitchell was paid "close to $40 million" is far-fetched at worst.
"Our law firm’s policy is not to publicly disclose fees. Whether or not to do so is entirely up to our clients. I can say that Mr. Clemens’ statement about a $40 million fee is wildly exaggerated; the amount paid was far less," said Mitchell.
But the former senator is most pointed when addressing Clemens’ comments about former Rep. Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who chaired the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2008, when Clemens and McNamee, his chief accuser, appeared before the committee members in an infamous hearing in February 2008. Clemens testified before that Oversight Committee that he had never used steroids or PEDs in his career. He was later indicted by the Justice Department in 2010, but was acquitted of all charges – including obstruction of Congress – after his federal perjury trial ended in 2012.
"What I know now is I should have set my wallet on the table, because that’s all it was, was about money. I’d like to find out that if Waxman had a referral fee from Mitchell. I think Mitchell got paid, before my name got put in (the report), I think he got paid close to $40 million," Clemens told Buck in the interview. "It was nothing short than a ‘Jerry Springer Show.’"
Mitchell offered a sobering rebuttal.
"Mr. Clemens’ comment about former Representative Waxman getting a referral fee from me is a false and reckless slur, intended to smear Waxman and me. No fees of any kind were paid to anyone," Mitchell said. "Mr. Clemens’ suggestion that my fee was somehow related to whether his name was in the report is also a complete fabrication."
Buck brings up McNamee’s name in the interview, but Clemens quickly cuts off the FOX Sports broadcaster.
"I don’t even want to mention (McNamee’s) name, because it makes me sick to my stomach," Clemens said in the interview, which was taped before a live audience. "Like I told y’all, I look for the good in people. I don’t think people are trying to get into my life."