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Report: The NFL had agreement with Washington not to share details of investigation without consent

Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell put the shield up

NFL: Washington Football Team-Press Conference Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Update: Statement from the NFL

Update: Statement from Dan Snyder’s attorney

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a roundtable yesterday that included 6 former Washington Redskins employees. Five of them were women who shared their experiences with sexual harassment and other workplace violations. One of them, Tiffani Johnston, accused Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder of inappropriate behavior that was reported the night before.

The two hour long roundtable allowed all of the witnesses to speak, and also offered a letter from another former employee corroborating Tiffani Johnston’s accusations against Dan Snyder. It broke down into partisan bickering when Republican members of the committee continually coordinated a resistance to the need to hold the event in the first place. When the roundtable ended there was no clear sense of whether this would actually accomplish anything, or get attorney Beth Wilkinson’s report released.

Dan Snyder issued a statement calling the new accusations against him outright lies:

The NFL said they would review the new accusations from Tiffani Johnston and determine if further action is necessary:

The House Committee for Oversight and Reform released several documents this morning that shine some light on the level of cooperation that existed between Dan Snyder, the Washington franchise, Roger Goodell, and the NFL to provide a shield for their shared interests. The team originally hired Beth Wilkinson to conduct a transparent investigation into their toxic workplace, and suggest changes to make them compliant with normal human decency and federal workplace laws. A written report was requested when she was hired, but that changed when the NFL took over the investigation. Roger Goodell changed the request to an oral report, and that was the final product of a months-long investigation that interviewed over 130 people and had access to 650,000 emails and documents.

Washington and the NFL also signed a “Common Interest Agreement” that pledged they would pursue a “joint legal strategy”. They agreed to not share any privileged documents or information exchanged during the investigation without the consent of both parties. The Committee interpreted this to mean that the NFL could not release the details of the report as requested without permission from Dan Snyder and the team.

When asked to clarify whether the team had discussed, threatened or asserted its privilege under the terms of the agreement, attorneys for the team told the committee, “The Team, and the NFL, have always acted in a manner consistent with the maintenance of that privilege, and there have been discussions, too numerous to recount (which are themselves privileged), regarding the preservation of that privilege.”

In Maloney and Krishnamoorthi’s letter to Goodell, they state the NFL withdrew from the common interest agreement in October around the same time Congress launched its investigation.

“These documents, which were gathered and created as part of the Wilkinson investigation, were stored on servers of a third-party vendor, where they remain. Now, after the NFL’s withdrawal from the agreement, each party claims that absent the other’s consent, they cannot access the documents, let alone release them to the Committee. By dissolving their common interest agreement and withholding consent, the parties may be attempting to create a legal limbo to stop the Committee from obtaining these key investigation documents.”

Lisa Banks, an attorney for several former Washington employees, including the six who took part in the roundtable, said the documents exposed the NFL’s investigation as “a fraud,” and she alluded to potential legal responses.

“The NFL and Daniel Snyder joined forces at the beginning of this investigation to pursue a joint legal strategy and declared a common interest in the outcome of the investigation,” Banks said in a telephone interview Friday. “Roger Goodell lied to the hundreds of women and men who came forward and to the public at large about the intentions behind the investigation, its supposed independence, and the reasons for not releasing the findings. There must be consequences and we will be reviewing any and all legal options available to our clients.”