ABC News has learned that Jeff Novitsky, the IRS agent who has spearheaded the federal investigation into the use of steroids by professional athletes, has asked to speak to former baseball player Jose Canseco about pictures that have emerged allegedly showing Roger Clemens at a party that Clemens swore, under oath in his congressional deposition, that he did not attend.
The photos, if verified, could put Clemens in legal jeopardy.
Congress may decide as early as this week whether to ask the Department of Justice to formally investigate whether Clemens made false statements to congress. House staffers have prepared several different drafts regarding a possible referral, but a final decision has yet to be made.
A lawyer for Canseco, Robert Saunooke, said his client intends to "fully cooperate," and has tentatively agreed to meet with Novitsky in San Francisco in the next couple of weeks.
In his sworn deposition, Clemens denied adamantly ever attending the 1998 party held at the house of his then-teammate Canseco. He was asked if he had been at Canseco's house at any time around the June 9 party, and he replied "no."
Clemens' initial denial of having attended the party had been an important part of his lawyers' attempts to undermine the accuracy of the Mitchell Report, the explosive findings of an investigation led by former Sen. George Mitchell, that accused Clemens of taking steroids. The Mitchell Report claims that Clemens was at the party.
Friday evening, Rusty Hardin, a lawyer for Clemens, released a statement saying he had been contacted earlier in the month by a man who said he had pictures of Clemens and his son together at the party. According to Hardin, the man told him that the pictures show Clemens in the pool with the man's then-11-year-old son. According to Hardin, the man said he'd call back but never did.
Richard Emery, a lawyer for Brian McNamee, Clemens' former trainer, who has said that he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs, said that he, too, learned about the existence of the photos. In an interview with ABC, Emery said he told federal prosecutors and congressional investigators about the existence of the photos last week. Emery was told one picture was of the boy in a pool with Clemens, and the other was of the boy and Canseco.
Contacted by ABC News, the man who allegedly owns the photographs, and who wished to remain anonymous, said he couldn't comment because he was under subpoena from the federal government. Congressional sources tell ABC News that such a subpoena did not come from Congress.
"It is impossible for us to comment on the photograph itself because we haven¹t seen it," said Hardin.
Hardin had secured a sworn affidavit from Canseco and submitted it to Congress. In the affidavit, Canseco said that he held a party on June 9, but that he was "disappointed" that Clemens "did not attend." The affidavit goes on to say that the statement in the Mitchell Report, saying that Clemens was at the party, was "absolutely false."
Saunooke said he is suspicious of the alleged photographs, which he has not seen. He added that his client believes the photographs could have come from a different event on another date.
Although it's a small detail in the Mitchell Report, the Clemens team initially seized on the fact that Mitchell had gotten the fact wrong, in an effort to impugn the senator's other, larger, findings.