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Ranking Democrat urges committee to refer Daniel Snyder case to DOJ

Aug 17, 2023

The ranking Democrat on the congressional committee that investigated the Washington Commanders and their former owner, Daniel Snyder, is urging the committee’s Republican chairman to refer Snyder’s case to the Justice Department for investigation and possible prosecution.

Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) wrote in an eight-page letter Wednesday to Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, that the Justice Department should investigate Snyder for lying under oath and obstructing the committee’s investigation.

“Making false statements to Congress and obstructing Congressional investigations are serious crimes,” Raskin wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. “This Committee cannot conduct effective oversight if witnesses misrepresent and obscure the truth. I therefore urge you to hold Mr. Snyder accountable by referring him to the Department of Justice for investigation and, if warranted, prosecution, for lying under oath and obstructing this Committee’s investigation.”

Comer is unlikely to grant Raskin’s requests. Republicans on the committee repeatedly criticized the Democratic-led investigation of Snyder and the Commanders as a misuse of the committee’s time and resources, then immediately declared the investigation over when the results of November’s midterm elections ensured they would take majority leadership of the committee in January.

“Ranking Member Raskin is obsessed with an investigation that has no connection whatsoever to the federal government,” an Oversight Committee spokesperson said in a statement issued Wednesday in response to a request for comment from Comer or the committee’s Republican leadership. “It is very clear what their priorities are — Democrats are more concerned with using Committee resources to target a private sports workplace than investigating the corruption of the sitting President of the United States. The Oversight Committee is going to continue to prioritize the American people by ensuring our federal government is efficient, accountable, and transparent.”

A spokesperson for Snyder did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Democrats on the Oversight Committee defended their investigation of Snyder and the Commanders in a statement from a spokeswoman issued following the Republican response to Raskin’s letter.

“Committee Democrats’ investigation into the practices of the NFL, one of the country’s most prominent workplaces, and the Commanders informed meaningful legislative reforms and demonstrated Committee Democrats’ commitment to creating real change in workplaces around the country by ensuring people can go to work free from pervasive sexual harassment and misconduct,” the spokeswoman said. “Rather than join Committee Democrats in this effort, Committee Republicans have repeatedly sought to protect Daniel Snyder despite overwhelming evidence that he condoned and participated in a toxic workplace culture of pervasive sexual harassment, including by issuing a memo that sought to whitewash Mr. Snyder’s misconduct.

“Their refusal to hold Mr. Snyder accountable for his efforts to obstruct the Committee’s investigation, including by making false statements under oath, is yet further proof that Committee Republicans are intent on using the Committee to advance false narratives rather than gathering facts and evidence to inform legislation for the benefit of the American people.”

Raskin’s letter cited discrepancies between Snyder’s testimony to the committee and the findings of an NFL investigation, conducted by attorney Mary Jo White, announced last month.

Investigation finds Commanders hid revenue, Snyder harassed team employee

The NFL announced at a special meeting July 20 that Snyder would pay the league $60 million as part of the closing of the sale of his franchise after White’s investigation concluded that the team withheld revenue it should have shared with other franchises and that Snyder sexually harassed a former team employee, Tiffani Johnston.

Johnston’s allegations first became public at a congressional roundtable in February 2022, leading the NFL to launch White’s investigation. The financial allegations against the team, made by former Commanders ticketing and sales executive Jason Friedman, were detailed by the committee in an April 2022 letter to the Federal Trade Commission.

“Mr. Snyder’s statements under oath to this Committee, claiming Ms. Johnston’s allegations ‘didn’t happen’ and were ‘not true,’ as well as his assertion that ‘the whole claim is not true’ are inconsistent with the findings of Ms. White’s investigation,” Raskin wrote Wednesday. “Mr. Snyder’s testimony to the Committee suggests a deliberate effort to provide false testimony in an effort to obstruct a Congressional investigation. These false statements are particularly troubling given that they appear to be part of a pattern of obstruction and misrepresentation that included Mr. Snyder’s efforts to smear Mr. Friedman and his characterization of Ms. Johnston’s account as ‘outright lies,’ as well as his efforts to interfere with a prior investigation conducted by Beth Wilkinson.”

The committee, then called the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, conducted a nearly 14-month investigation beginning in October 2021. In December, it issued a 79-page final report, titled “Conduct Detrimental: How the NFL and the Washington Commanders Covered Up Decades of Sexual Misconduct.” In the report, the committee wrote that Snyder evaded questions by saying more than 100 times that he did not know or could not recall information and gave “misleading” answers when he testified remotely last year as part of the investigation.

According to the report, Snyder “obstructed” the committee’s investigation and failed to fulfill his attorney’s pledge that he would provide full and complete testimony. The report also said Snyder “engaged in a series of attempts to interfere with the Committee’s investigation” and that he “publicly assailed witnesses, refused to release former employees from their confidentiality obligations, and blocked the Committee’s access to tens of thousands of documents collected during” a previous NFL investigation conducted by Wilkinson.

Snyder participated remotely in a sworn deposition for more than 10 hours in July 2022 after he and the committee agreed on the terms of the interview following weeks of negotiations. Snyder refused the committee’s invitation to take part in a June 2022 hearing on Capitol Hill at which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell testified remotely. Snyder’s attorney subsequently refused to accept electronic service of a subpoena.

John Brownlee and Stuart Nash, attorneys for the Commanders, wrote in a statement when the report was issued: “These Congressional investigators demonstrated, almost immediately, that they were not interested in the truth, and were only interested in chasing headlines by pursuing one side of the story. Today’s report is the predictable culmination of that one-sided approach.”

Republican staffers wrote to Republican committee members in a December memo that committee Democrats had “chosen to weaponize the power of Congress against a single private workplace,” adding that the investigation’s goal had been to force Snyder “to give up the Team.”

Daniel Snyder gave evasive, ‘misleading’ testimony, House committee says

You could read more of this Washington Post Article here.