ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder will voluntarily testify via Zoom before Congress on Thursday morning, according to a spokesman for the House Oversight Committee.
President Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.) had wanted Snyder to testify under a subpoena as part of their investigation into the franchise’s work culture, but Snyder wanted to do so voluntarily and, therefore, not under oath. The Committee finally agreed to let him do it voluntarily.
Thursday’s deposition, scheduled for 8 a.m., will be private, but the Commission may have all or part of the transcript. Deposition is usually conducted by Committee staff members, but other Committee members may participate if they wish.
In a statement, the spokesperson said Snyder was “committed to providing full and complete testimony and to answering the Committee’s questions about his knowledge of and contributions to the toxic work environment of commanding officers, as well as his his efforts to interfere with the NFL’s internal investigation, without hiding behind nondisclosure agreements or other confidentiality agreements.”
The statement also says that if Snyder fails to meet his commitments, the Committee is “prepared to compel him to testify on any unanswered questions upon his return to the United States.”
Maloney said in a letter earlier this month to Snyder’s attorney, Karen Patton Seymour, that she didn’t want Snyder to avoid answering questions by saying he couldn’t because it violated a non-disclosure agreement. Seymour had said in a letter to Maloney that such concerns were “unfounded”.
Snyder’s testimony comes a day before the House recesses for its August recess. Maloney had issued a subpoena for Snyder, but it was never served. Snyder remains overseas and therefore cannot be served. According to shipfinder.com, Snyder’s yacht is currently moored in the Mediterranean, off Italy.
Snyder had told the Committee that he did not want to testify until now because he and his family were in Israel to commemorate the first anniversary of his mother’s death with multiple events over several weeks.
U.S. Marshals serve subpoenas on behalf of the committee in the United States but, according to a spokesperson, the Marshals Service “does not have the authority to serve a Congressional subpoena internationally.”
Maloney could have waited until Snyder returned to the United States and served the subpoena then. If he hadn’t shown up for his deposition, Congress might have despised him. At that point, Snyder could have tried in court to have the subpoena dismissed — a process that could have taken months. If Republicans regain control of the House after the November election, James Comer, the ranking minority, said they would no longer pursue that investigation. This means that Snyder could have avoided testifying by virtue of a subpoena or otherwise.
There is a crucial difference between testifying by subpoena and doing so voluntarily.
“If you’re subpoenaed, you have to answer the question asked,” Dave Rapallo, the House Oversight Committee’s Democratic staff director from 2011 to 2021, told ESPN last month. “If it’s voluntary and you’re not under a subpoena, you don’t do it.”
Many employees and former employees who participated in the NFL’s internal investigation into commanders’ work culture, which resulted in a $10 million fine in July 2021, have signed nondisclosure agreements, commonly called NDAs.
Although the committee’s statement made it clear that he expected Snyder to answer questions, Rapallo said, “Snyder could say to the committee, ‘I’m not authorized to answer the question because there’s a NDA. He can claim he can’t answer because of the NDA unless there’s a subpoena.”
Earlier this week, the attorney for more than 40 former employees of the organization said in a statement that he wants Snyder to waive the NDA for his clients to speak to the committee. Snyder released them from the NDA to speak with attorney Beth Wilkinson when she investigated the franchise for the NFL. They were also released to speak with Mary Jo White, who is investigating for the NFL a new allegation of alleged sexual misconduct by Snyder.
“While it is true that Mr. Snyder does not intend to interfere with the witnesses’ ability to speak with the Committee, we ask that he agree to waive any NDA for this purpose,” the attorneys wrote. Lisa Banks and Debra Katz. “It would provide much-needed comfort to my clients and many other witnesses so that they can speak freely without fear of legal action.”