- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2022

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder testified remotely — and privately — for nearly 11 hours Thursday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee after weeks of negotiations that ultimately ended with the embattled billionaire agreeing to answer questions about workplace misconduct in his organization.

Snyder agreed to testify voluntarily and under oath. The deposition started at 8 a.m. and stretched into the evening, concluding shortly after 6:30 p.m.

Snyder’s testimony comes after the owner’s camp and the committee clashed over the format of the interview. The owner previously declined an invitation to a June 22 hearing, leading the committee to issue a subpoena. But with Snyder overseas, his lawyer refused to accept the service of the subpoena on his behalf and proposed her client participate voluntarily instead.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the committee’s chairwoman, insisted in a letter earlier this month that Snyder had to testify under a subpoena as it would force him to answer every question from the panel unless he invoked the Fifth Amendment’s right to protect against self-incrimination. Specifically, the New York Democrat cited concerns that Snyder would avoid answering questions by claiming he was bound by nondisclosure agreements.

Karen Patton Seymour, Snyder’s attorney, responded that Maloney’s assertion was “baseless” and that Snyder had no NDA that would prevent him from fully cooperating with Congress. 

After further talks, the committee agreed to let Snyder testify voluntarily. But in a statement Thursday, a committee spokesperson warned that the panel would look to impose the subpoena if it found Snyder failed to fully comply with the deposition.

“Mr. Snyder has committed to providing full and complete testimony, and to answer the Committee’s questions about his knowledge of and contributions to the Commanders’ toxic work environment, as well as his efforts to interfere with the NFL’s internal investigation, without hiding behind non-disclosure or other confidentiality agreements,” the spokesperson said.  “Should Mr. Snyder fail to honor his commitments, the Committee is prepared to compel his testimony on any unanswered questions upon his return to the United States.”

A spokesperson for Snyder said in a statement afterward that the owner “fully addressed all questions about workplace misconduct, described the Commanders’ dramatic two-year transformation and expressed hope for the organization’s bright future” during the interview with the committee.

Though Thursday’s deposition took place in private, the committee now has the option to release any information — such as a transcript — from the interview. 

Last month, the committee released a series of transcripts from former employees who blamed Snyder for overseeing a workplace culture that they say was rife with inappropriate behavior. The panel began investigating Snyder and the Commanders last fall after the NFL faced renewed criticism for its probe of the team’s misconduct. 

The league fined the team $10 million in July 2021 after more than 40 women said they were sexually harassed while working for the team, though Snyder was not suspended and the NFL did not release a detailed report. 

Since the committee launched its probe, the panel has hosted a February roundtable in which former Washington employee Tiffani Johnston accused Snyder of making an unwanted sexual advance and a June hearing in which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell attended virtually. 

Beyond Johnston, who said Snyder caressed her thigh underneath a table and later tried to coax her into his limo in 2005 or 2006, another former employee came forward to accuse the team of financial improprieties such as intentionally withholding refunds from season-ticket holders. 

Snyder has denied all allegations, but the series of claims prompted new investigations from the NFL and the attorneys general from the District and Virginia.

Committee staffers typically conduct depositions, though members on the panel had the option to participate. 

Snyder testified from Israel, where he is there to observe the one-year anniversary of his mother’s death. 

Snyder’s testimony also happened a day before the House breaks for an August recess. The panel’s investigation does not have a timeline to be completed, but Republicans have vowed to end the probe if they take control of the House after the November midterm elections.

“I don’t really care what Dan Snyder’s opinion is,” Rep. James Comer, a Kentucky Republican who is the ranking member of the committee, told The Washington Times last month. “I want the American people to know that this is a waste of their tax dollars and this isn’t something that is going to be a priority for the Republicans. … The Washington Redskins is not a priority for Republicans on the Oversight Committee.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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