WASHINGTON — After weeks of back and forth between a congressional committee investigating the workplace culture of the Washington Commanders and the team's owner, Dan Snyder, the parties have agreed on a date for Snyder to testify.
In response to a letter sent Thursday by Snyder's attorney, Karen Patton Seymour, offering two dates for the owner to remotely testify, the House Oversight and Reform Committee says it will accept the July 28 offer. Seymour responded Wednesday, saying Snyder would voluntarily testify and urging Congress not to issue a subpoena for his appearance.
"There is no legitimate need for a subpoena to Mr. Snyder," Seymour wrote. "We are confident that Mr. Snyder will able to provide full and complete testimony during his voluntary appearance – a view the Committee apparently shared ... since the Committee invited him to testify voluntarily at a hearing held just three weeks ago."
However, Seymour has continued to reiterate that Snyder is only willing to testify if certain "due process concerns could be resolved."
Previous correspondence between the two sides reveals concerns by Seymour including that the Oversight Committee, "would not provide any assurance that the questions directed to Mr. Snyder would be limited to (historical workplace culture issues)" and wants additional information provided about the scope of the investigation including the identity of any witnesses that have previously testified, and what they testified to.
"The Committee refused to provide copies of documents that members of the Committee intend to question Mr. Snyder about—a courtesy that I understand is often extended to witnesses at congressional hearings," Seymour wrote.
In Tuesday's letter, the House Committee said Snyder's testimony would need to be "full and complete, and will not be restricted."
The Committee is investigating the Washington Commanders' alleged "hostile workplace culture, spanning two decades, and the NFL's handling of the allegations. A June 22 hearing included testimony from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling the team culture toxic and unprofessional, documenting instances of "bullying, widespread disrespect toward colleagues, use of demeaning language, public embarrassment and harassment." Goodell also alleged that Snyder had hidden from the league a 2009 settlement with a former team employee who accused him of sexual assault.
"No one should experience workplaces like the one described, especially not in the National Football League," Goodell said in his opening statement. “The Commanders had a woefully deficient HR function, particularly with respect to reporting practices and recordkeeping."
Ultimately, Goodell said he felt the Commanders’ culture issues had been dealt with by the NFL and handled appropriately. He said the league had done its job conducting an independent investigation and issuing fines against the team and its leaders. Goodell made it clear the NFL would not issue a report on its own investigation into the Commanders because of its promise to protect the identities of those who testified.
Snyder was in France during the June 22 hearing and has not returned to the United States since. He continues to travel outside of the country -- including a planned family trip to Israel that will extend into August, according to Seymour. She has said she would need to travel to Israel before he testifies in order to properly advise her client. The Committee announced its intent to subpoena Snyder during that hearing, but Snyder's legal team insisted he was not available for the chosen deposition date.
David Rapallo, director of the Federal Legislation Clinic at Georgetown Law and a former staff director for the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, told WUSA9 that Snyder's claims of desired cooperation appeared more like obstruction. Rapallo described an attorney being willing to accept service of a subpoena through email as "standard practice" compared to the alternative of a client being personally presented a subpoena by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Rapallo said most attorneys will accept a subpoena and then work out details of a deposition that would include date, time and potential parameters.
"[The Committee] will not tolerate attempts to evade service of a duly authorized subpoena or seek special treatment not afforded to other witnesses who testified in this matter," a Committee spokesperson said in a statement to WUSA9. "The Committee will not be deterred from obtaining Mr. Snyder’s testimony and we remain committed to ensuring transparency about the toxic workplace culture at the Washington Commanders and the NFL’s inadequate response.”
Snyder's attorney has a deadline of noon Wednesday to accept service of a subpoena and to appear for a recorded ZOOM deposition on July 28.