Congressman Darrell Issa is now the chairman of the committee before which Roger Clemens appeared and allegedly perjured himself and which referred his testimony to prosecutors. Issa wasn’t the chairman at the time, however. And at the time, he was highly critical of both the hearing itself and the referral for prosecution.
Indeed, he was extremely outspoken about it all, saying the following in newspaper articles at the time:
And then there is Issa, who ascended to chairman in 2011 after Republicans took control of the House. The California congressman had seemed perturbed that the committee was holding the hearing, saying it appeared too focused on alleged steroid use by an individual player.
“We’re not prosecutors, and we’re not supposed to worry about a former pusher and a former [alleged] user,” he said. “We’re supposed to be dealing with a whole industry that had a problem.”
He also described the hearings as a witch hunt. “We don’t really have a mandate to be looking at this,” he told New York’s Daily News. “To me, it smacks of the McCarthy era.” He later told the same newspaper that “this was all about entrapping Roger Clemens.”
There’s a battle on now to get Issa to take the stand in the Roger Clemens prosecution. Clemens lawyers have subpoenaed him. Issa is fighting the subpoena. The prosecutors are arguing it’s not relevant. There will be a hearing on it all this week. How this cuts in my view:
- It’s totally understandable why Clemens’ lawyers want Issa: they want to get him to slag on the prosecution like he did to the newspaper, to make jurors think this is all a waste of time;
- That said, it’s hard to see how this is relevant. A congressional staffer already testified for the prosecution to establish whether or not the alleged perjury was “material.” I suppose the defense has the right to offer its own evidence that the testimony was NOT “material,” but the stuff Issa said in that article doesn’t necessarily relate to that. It relates to whether the hearing itself was useful or ill-advised. If Issa is forced to testify, I could see a situation where he’d be barred from offering his opinions regarding the propriety of the hearing, even if he could talk about whether what Clemens said truly mattered;
- As for Issa, he’s probably fighting the subpoena to avoid the awkward situation in which he’d risk calling his own committee’s work useless. I mean, he may think that particular hearing was, but the chairman of a committee likely doesn’t want to get into the business of doing this sort of thing. Not that it hasn’t happened before. The linked article talks about past committee members testifying in referred prosecutions, sometimes on opposite sides of one another.
There are also some political overtones here in that Issa has been ripping Obama administration officials regarding responding to subpoenas while he’s trying to duck one of his own. That kind of bores me, but the chatter surrounds it. It’s made it juicy for the politicos anyway.
Fun times in the trial that will never end.