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Roger Clemens wants to call George Mitchell as a witness

Jun 30, 2011, 5:30 PM EDT

George Mitchell

There’s a lot about Roger Clemens’ legal strategy that I’ve never understood, so I shouldn’t be surprised when something new comes up that makes me want to scratch my head:

 Former Sen. George Mitchell says Roger Clemens may call him to testify at his upcoming trial on charges he lied about drug use … Mitchell’s attorney filed court documents Thursday disclosing that his client is a potential defense witness and asking permission to make objections during his testimony.

The Mitchell Report had a lot of problems, but over-inclusive is not something that anyone has accused it of being. Indeed, apart from Clemens, I can’t recall anyone who was named in it that has seriously objected to their inclusion.

The real problem with it was that it only went after the low-hanging fruit (i.e. players who used a couple of drug dealers like Radomski, BALCO and McNamee) and gave the false impression that there were only 89 players who used PEDs, and now that those bad apples had been identified, they could be properly vilified and life can go on as if nothing had ever happened.

So if I’m the prosecutor, and I have a very well-respected former United States senator on the stand, called by the defendant, I simply walk him through the following:

Prosecutor: Senator Mitchell: apart from Mr. Clemens’ objections, have you, since the release of your report, been notified that your investigative team mistakenly included a player who had not, in fact, used performance enhancing drugs?

Mitchell: No.

Prosecutor: Not a single player?

Mitchell: No.

Prosecutor: Thank you, Senator.

Nah, that doesn’t move the needle too much, but it certainly doesn’t help Clemens to have the fact that there are no other erroneously-named players in the report entered into evidence. And Mitchell’s presence there will give gravitas to the anti-Clemens side of the room.

Not too late, Roger: you can decide not to call him.  Might be a good move to let him go. If you want to go after the Mitchell Report, call an expert who can poke holes in its methodology and conclusions in a way that doesn’t allow its well-respected namesake to come in and make it sound more credible than it really was.

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