Subpoena for Daniel Snyder, scrutiny for Roger Goodell at partisan hearing

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An empty chair designated for “Mr. Snyder” faced members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee during Wednesday’s hearing on the hostile work culture of Washington commanders, and in no time , Speaker Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.) clarified the symbolism, announcing plans to issue a subpoena compelling owner Daniel Snyder to testify under oath next week.

“Rather than show up and take responsibility for his actions, he chose to leave town,” Maloney said during the hearing, noting that Snyder’s yacht was in France, with the owner presumably on board. rather than on Capitol Hill. “That should tell you how much he respects women in the workplace.”

In Snyder’s absence, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answered questions for 2½ hours on his understanding of the allegations of widespread sexual harassment in the team’s workplace under Snyder, as well as the league’s response to these. Asked to characterize what he had learned about the commanders’ environment, Goodell, testifying remotely from New York, said he had not seen a culture “anywhere near” as bad as Washington’s. during his four decades in the NFL.

But Goodell stood firm in his refusal to release the findings of a league-sponsored investigation into commanders led by attorney Beth Wilkinson, reiterating that the NFL had promised confidentiality to the 150 former employees who described episodes of harassment. sex and degrading treatment.

Daniel Snyder conducted ‘ghost investigation’ into accusers, panel says

Several panel members found Goodell’s justification unsatisfactory.

“That’s not true,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) told Goodell. “The survivors begged you to release the report.”

Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) then asked Goodell why the names of those who testified but requested anonymity could not be redacted. Raskin noted that’s how the NFL dealt with privacy issues when it released a 148-page report into harassment in the Miami Dolphins organization in 2014.

“Editing doesn’t always work in my world,” Goodell replied.

Goodell said the NFL appropriately sanctioned Snyder following its investigation, noting the $10 million fine imposed on the team as well as Snyder’s interruption in day-to-day business management. Goodell also praised the organization’s transformation following the allegations.

“To be clear,” said Goodell, whose face was projected onto oversized screens in the Capitol Hill courtroom, “the workplace of commanders today is nothing like the workplace that has been described to this committee”.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) asked Goodell if Snyder or the team informed the league of a 2009 sexual assault allegation against Snyder that resulted in a $1.6 million settlement with a former employee. The Washington Post on Tuesday reported details of an employee’s claim that Snyder sexually assaulted her during a flight in his private jet in April 2009, three months before the team agreed to pay the confidential settlement. In a 2020 court filing, Snyder called the woman’s claims “baseless.”

Goodell said: “I don’t remember informing him [the league] of that, no.

The hybrid proceedings, with some lawmakers in the courtroom and others participating remotely, were marked by acrimony, sharp partisan division and periodic indiscipline, with Maloney repeatedly banging his gavel in a futile effort to silence Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), who repeatedly asked, “What is the purpose of this hearing? As Maloney tried to move on, Donalds said, “You can hit the hammer all you want, but I don’t care.”

Exclusive: Document reveals details of 2009 sexual assault allegation against Daniel Snyder

In Maloney’s view, the value of the survey is twofold: to shine a light on one of the nation’s most visible workplaces (the Washington NFL team) as an example of how its leaders should not not treat employees and develop legislation to protect all American workers from similar abuse. .

“For more than two decades, Dan Snyder refused to protect the women who worked for him from the toxic culture he created,” Maloney said in his opening statement. “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.

But for Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the minority party member on the panel, and many of his fellow Republicans, the inquiry is a waste of taxpayers’ money and committee members’ time.

“Let’s hold hearings and monitor the crises affecting Americans today: 40-year high inflation, skyrocketing gas prices, out-of-stock infant formula, raging border crisis, fentanyl overdoses, and our market booming stock market,” Comer said. .

Rep. Virginia Foxx (RN.C.) echoed Comer’s comment.

“As we sit here today, families are wondering how to pay for gas, groceries and find formula for their babies,” Foxx said, calling the commanders’ affairs “the last thing on your mind. Americans”.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.) announced a subpoena for the Washington Commanders owner during a June 22 hearing investigating the team’s “toxic” workplace. (Video: Reuters, Photo: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post/Reuters)

Wednesday’s hearing was the next step in an eight-month investigation spurred by the NFL’s refusal to release details of Wilkinson’s findings.

It was preceded by the committee’s release of approximately 700 pages of documents related to its work – depositions, transcribed interviews and a 29-page summary outlining how Snyder, through a team of attorneys and investigators private, conducted a “shadow investigation” in an effort to discredit his accusers and deflect blame for widespread misconduct in the team’s workplace. At the center of this “ghost investigation,” according to the committee’s findings, was the creation of an illustrated “dossier” of 100 slides targeting former employers, their attorneys, and Washington Post reporters whom Snyder perceived as enemies.

The committee also found that Snyder led an effort to locate derogatory information about former team president Bruce Allen that he could use to convince the NFL and Wilkinson that Allen, not Snyder, was responsible for the toxic team culture. Snyder fired Allen after 10 years in December 2019.

To that end, attorneys working for Snyder combed through more than 400,000 emails in Allen’s dormant team account, looking for anything “inappropriate,” then shared that information with the NFL and Wilkinson. He also hired private investigators to visit the homes of former cheerleaders and ask if they knew of any “sexual misconduct” involving Allen.

Since the first report of rampant sexual harassment within the team in July 2020, Snyder has presented himself as the victim of an orchestrated plot to defame and extort him. He also said his only failure as an NFL owner was being “too indifferent”, adding that once he was aware of the issues, he fired all the bad actors.

Maloney closed the hearing with a message for Snyder.

“We will not be deterred by billionaire owners and political posturing,” she said. “Victims demand answers, and we all demand justice.”

Afterwards, committee members said they would move quickly to obtain Snyder’s testimony and that he would face swift punishment if he refused.

“Snubbing the nose at Congress is not a good strategy,” said Krishnamoorthi, who helped lead the investigation.

Snyder twice declined the committee’s invitation to testify, saying through his attorney that he had a ‘long-running trade dispute’ overseas on Wednesday and had additional concerns about propriety of procedure and fairness. He indicated that before agreeing to appear before the committee, he wanted to be assured that any questions put to him would be limited to the “historical culture” of the team. He also requested, through his attorney, the identity of anyone who spoke to the committee about him or the team and the substance of the interviews.

Speier predicted that Snyder would refuse to testify and the House would vote to hold him in contempt of Congress.

“He’s arrogant enough to be looked down on,” Speier said. “That’s my guess.”

Nicki Jhabvala contributed to this report.

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