House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California) tells the New York Times’ Duff Wilson and Michael Schmidt that Wednesday’s grilling of Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee could’ve been avoided, but the former was asking for it. Literally.

œI think Clemens and McNamee both came out quite sullied, and I didn™t think it was a hearing that needed to be held in order to get the facts out about the Mitchell report, Waxman said.

œI™m sorry we had the hearing. I regret that we had the hearing. And the only reason we had the hearing was because Roger Clemens and his lawyers insisted on it.

The decision to hold the hearing had been made in early January, as Clemens was publicly challenging the veracity of the Mitchell report. But Waxman said he and Tom Davis of Virginia, the ranking Republican and former chairman of the committee, decided by last Friday that they did not need to conduct the hearing as scheduled because depositions taken last week from Clemens, McNamee, Andy Pettitte and others were thorough, as was the committee staff™s own investigation, and that a hearing would not provide a great deal more insight.

œRoger Clemens™s lawyers told us he wanted the opportunity to make his case in public, Waxman said. œHe had his opportunity. Now, Waxman added, 90 percent of the people being asked their opinion of the hearing were stating that they did not believe Clemens.

Waxman™s regrets, and his assertion that Clemens™s side was responsible for the hearing taking place, was assailed last night by Clemens™s lead attorney, Rusty Hardin, who said Waxman™s statements were œunbelievable, disingenuous and outrageous.

œHe is the one who created this circus in the first place, Hardin said of Waxman, contending that Clemens and his lawyers had asked several weeks ago for the hearing to be called off, only to be rebuffed by Waxman™s staff.

Waxman said he was shocked at the partisan nature of the hearing, with Democrats, for the most part, grilling Clemens, while Republicans lambasted McNamee. œI was disappointed to see that kind of partisanship, and I can™t understand it, Waxman said.

Waxman said Davis and Mark Souder of Indiana were the only Republicans on the committee who actually read through the depositions that were filed last week. Souder was also one of the few committee members who refused Clemens™s request for a private meeting before the hearing. And it was Souder who stood out from his Republican colleagues by stating during the hearing that the depositions were œfairly devastating against Clemens.