WASHINGTON -- The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform asked the U.S. Department of Justice to open an investigation into whether Miguel Tejada gave false statements to members of the same committee in 2005 about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, the Committee's chairman said in his opening remarks at a Capitol Hill hearing on Tuesday.

During the hearing, which was called to review the recommendations and findings of the report released last month by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, copies of a letter were circulated asking for the investigation to be opened.

In the letter, sent on Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, the Congressmen asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Tejada knowingly made false statements to the Committee. "Such statements would constitute a violation of federal criminal law," the letter read.

"Mr. Tejada made statements to the Committee in a transcribed interview on Aug. 26, 2005, regarding his knowledge of and involvement with steroids. Evidence contained in former Senator Mitchell's report on steroid use in Major League Baseball appears to be inconsistent with statements he gave to the Committee."

The letter was signed by U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the committee chairman, and Tom Davis, its ranking minority member and a Republican from Virginia.

Astros owner Drayton McLane opted to keep his comments brief, expressing a desire to find out more information before he makes a definitive statement.

"We were just as surprised as everyone else was when the committee said that today," McLane said. "We need for all of the issues and facts to come out before Ed and I can sit down and really evaluate. We know no more than everybody else.

"We were disappointed when it came out, that the statement was made publicly. We're going to work through the issues."

McLane added that he felt players needed to be given an opportunity to tell their side of the story.

"For all of this to unfold like this, whether it's Roger [Clemens] or Tejada or any of them, they need a chance to defend themselves," McLane said. "I just think it's inappropriate until we know more."

Later in the day, Tejada learned that his older brother, Freddy Manuel, had died in a motor vehicle accident when the motorcycle he was riding collided with a sport utility vehicle in Bani, a city in the southern part of their native Dominican Republic.

Tejada, then with the Orioles and now a member of the Astros, was interviewed in 2005 as part of an investigation into testimony given to the Committee on March 17 of that year by Rafael Palmeiro. Palmeiro, also then with the Orioles, was one of five players who attended that hearing. During his testimony and under oath, Palmeiro wagged his finger at the panel and said that he had never used steroids.

In August of that year, Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days under MLB's joint drug policy after testing positive for steroid use. Palmeiro said at the time that he thought he had been injected, by Tejada, with the vitamin B-12.

Congress opened an investigation into whether Palmeiro had committed perjury in his original remarks to the Committee. No charges we brought, because the Committee couldn't find enough evidence to do so, although Tejada admitted during the investigation that he provided B-12, a known steroid masker, to Palmeiro and two other unidentified Orioles players.

"As part of that investigation, we interviewed Miguel Tejada for relevant information," Waxman said in his statement. "A transcript of that interview has never been made public out of respect for Mr. Tejada's privacy. But in the interview, Mr. Tejada told the Committee that he never used illegal performance-enhancing drugs and that he had no knowledge of other players using or even talking about using steroids.

"The Mitchell Report, however, directly contradicts key elements of Mr. Tejada's testimony. The contrast is stark and fundamental to the Committee's 2005 information."

On pages 201-204 of the Report, Mitchell discusses at length his information regarding Tejada's drug use.

Mitchell said that Adam Piatt, a former player and teammate of Tejada's when they played for the A's, recalled providing steroids, testosterone and human growth hormone to Tejada in 2003. Piatt gave Mitchell cancelled checks from transactions he had with Tejada for a total of $6,300. A $3,200 check from Tejada to Piatt dated March 21, 2003, is reprinted on page 202 of the report.

Though Piatt told Mitchell he provided the drugs to Tejada, he "emphasized that he did not know whether Tejada actually used the substances," Mitchell wrote.

The Astros obtained Tejada from the Orioles for five players this past Dec. 12, one day before the Report was released.