WASHINGTON — A letter from an attorney representing Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder sent to the chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee indicates Snyder's willingness to testify before the Committee, provided certain conditions are met. The letter was sent to the Committee Thursday and obtained by WUSA9.
In the three-page letter, attorney Karen Patton Seymour highlights that she has had no correspondence with members of the Committee since June 30, as both sides were attempting to work out details of a deposition to be taken via video conference.
Snyder, the letter points out, was in France during the Committee's hearing that included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on June 22. He has not returned to the United States since the hearing and continues to travel outside of the country -- including a planned family trip to Israel that will extend into August, according to the letter.
The committee is investigating the Washington Commanders' alleged "hostile workplace culture, spanning two decades, and the NFL's handling of the allegations.
"On the assumption our due process concerns could be resolved, Mr. Snyder could make himself available for a voluntary appearance by Zoom on July 28 or 29 -- notwithstanding that he would still be in Israel with his family at that time—and that I would travel to Israel to represent him," Seymour wrote in the letter.
Those "due process" concerns appear to be the larger sticking point rather than the haggling over dates between the Committee and Snyder's attorney.
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.)"
Seymour also wrote in a letter to the Committee dated June 15 that, "the Committee also declined to provide any additional information about the nature and scope of its investigation, including the identity of any other witnesses that have testified about the team and/or my client, whether any such witnesses have made allegations about the team and/or my client, and the substance of any such allegations. The Committee likewise 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."
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform announced its intent during the June 22 hearing to subpoena Snyder for a committee deposition. Snyder, however, said he would not attend due to a Commanders-related event out of the country.
"Dan and his lawyer are unavailable on the date provided by the committee for the deposition. For that reason and because many of the due process concerns have yet to be addressed, Dan's lawyer could not accept service," a source close to Snyder said.
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.”
Hours before the June 22 hearing began, the committee shared a new memo detailing Snyder's purported role in creating that environment and his apparent efforts to discredit victims and witnesses by launching a “shadow investigation” to influence the NFL's internal investigation into workplace misconduct allegations.
"For more than two decades, Dan Snyder refused to protect the women who worked for him from the toxic culture he created," Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said in her opening statement at the hearing. "The NFL has also failed to protect these women. Now I believe it is up to Congress to protect them, and millions more like them."
During the hearing, legislators heard testimony from 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."
Goodell proceeded to be grilled for two hours by Democratic lawmakers over the NFL's handling of its investigation into Snyder and the team. The House Oversight Committee launched its investigation in October 2021, following the NFL's refusal to release the findings of an internal investigation, led by D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson, into workplace misconduct and harassment allegations levied against Snyder and some of his front office staff in 2020.
Goodell has made it clear the NFL would not issue a report on that investigation because of its promise to protect the identities of those who testified.
"I have a lot of constituents who are victims of this culture and they have all asked for the Wilkinson report to be released," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said, urging Goodell to reconsider.
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.
Several Republican members of the committee jumped on that line, questioning the hearing's purpose.
"I’m not going to use my time as a member of Congress to get into this when [Goodell] says Snyder has been held accountable," Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) said.
Donalds went as far as to call it a "show hearing" pointing to the empty spot set for Snyder, despite the committee knowing he wouldn't be in attendance.
"It is clear the outcome of the House Oversight Committee's investigation into the Washington Commanders was predetermined from the beginning," a spokesperson for Snyder said of the June 22 hearing. "The committee's decision to release a 'report' and introduce legislation prior to the hearing is proof-positive this was always going to be little more than a politically-charged show trial, not about uncovering the truth. Hopefully, the committee will use its resources going forward for more pressing national matters, instead of an issue a football team addressed years ago."