- The Washington Times
Monday, June 27, 2022

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder, through his lawyer, informed the House Oversight and Reform Committee that he is unavailable to testify at a deposition this week — marking the latest escalation in the tense standoff between the two sides. 

Snyder’s lawyer, Karen Patton Seymour, told the panel in an email Friday that neither she nor Snyder would be available this week as both are out of the country, a source with knowledge of the situation said. The committee then asked Seymour to accept service of the subpoena on Snyder’s behalf, but the attorney — as The Washington Times previously reported — replied that she wasn’t authorized to do so. 

The actions from Snyder’s camp drew a sharp rebuttal Monday from the committee, which vowed last week to subpoena the embattled billionaire for a deposition after he refused to voluntarily appear at a hearing on Capitol Hill about his team’s workplace misconduct. 

“Mr. Snyder has so far refused to accept service of the Committee’s subpoena,” a spokesperson for the committee said. “While the Committee has been, and remains, willing to consider reasonable accommodations requested by witnesses, we 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.  

“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.”

Another source familiar with the matter said Monday that the panel did technically issue the subpoena to Snyder on Friday. But the subpoena cannot go into effect until Snyder — or someone on his behalf — accepts the service of the order. 

A spokesperson for Snyder said in a statement that the committee offered only one date — Thursday, June 30 — for the deposition and reiterated that his attorney is unavailable on that day due to being out of the country.

“Mr. Snyder has not refused to appear for a deposition,” the spokesperson said. “Mr. Snyder’s lawyer has provided alternate dates and looks forward to finding a path forward for Mr. Snyder’s further cooperation and to address remaining due process concerns.” 

Before Snyder skipped last week’s hearing, Seymour took issue with the format — writing in a letter that the committee declined to provide the identity of witnesses that testified to the committee and include the substance of their allegations, among other issues.

David Rapallo, a former House Oversight and Reform Committee staff director who is now a law professor at Georgetown, said that the “vast, vast majority” of congressional subpoenas are usually accepted over email by an individual’s attorney.

If Snyder does not grant the authorization, then questions arise as to what extent the committee will go to deliver the subpoena to Snyder. Rapallo said that U.S. Marshals can be tasked with delivering the documents, but such occurrences aren’t common.

“The reason that the email service is such a normal process is that people don’t want the alternative, which is the U.S. Marshals,” Rapallo said. “There are cases where congressional subpoenas can be served by U.S. Marshals. Normally that happens in the United States. 

“That’s pretty rare to have to use the marshals to serve.” 

Snyder, however, remains out of the country — complicating matters should the subpoena need to be delivered to the owner in person. The source close to Snyder said the 57-year-old continues to have obligations overseas through large parts of July. Snyder, who lawmakers said missed the congressional hearing to attend an awards ceremony in France, plans to be in Israel for a few weeks to hold a ceremony for the one-year anniversary of his mother’s death, the person said. 

Rapallo struggled to think of a previous instance in which Congress needed to subpoena someone outside the U.S. — adding it would be in both parties’ interests to reach a compromise on an agreed date for Snyder to testify, even if it took place remotely. 

Snyder’s lawyer previously said the owner wouldn’t be able to testify remotely for last week’s hearing because the owner would not have in-person access to his counsel. “A basic right,” Seymour wrote to the panel. 

Lawmakers chided Snyder last week for not appearing at Wednesday’s hearing. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat who has helped spearhead the panel’s probe, said the subpoena was going to be ordered to hear the testimony that Snyder “should’ve” given at the hearing. 

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, said “we’re living in a time where people feel like they’re above the law” and compared the owner to those who refused to participate in hearings held by the Jan. 6 select committee. 

“​​Perhaps Dan Snyder was taking his cues from those who think they’re above the representatives of the people in Congress,” Mr. Raskin said.

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

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