On Thursday, multiple former employees of the Washington Commanders testified at a hybrid roundtable conducted by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform. One of the former employees, Tiffani Johnston, testified that team owner Daniel Snyder placed his hand on her leg at a company dinner, and that he left it there until she moved it. After the dinner, he allegedly tried to cajole her into his limo.
Following the session before the committee, Snyder issued a statement. Buried in the lengthy comment is this key excerpt: “[T]he allegations leveled against me personally in today’s roundtable — many of which are well over 13 years old — are outright lies. I unequivocally end having participated in any such conduct, at any time and with respect to any person.” (Free P.R. tip: If you’re going to claim the allegations are “outright lies,” there’s no reason to point out how old the “outright lies” are. If they’re “outright lies,” it doesn’t matter whether they were made 13 years, 13 days, or 13 minutes ago. A gratuitous reference to the age of the allegations only weakens the denial.)
The dispute between Johnston and Snyder underscores the importance of having attorney Beth Wilkinson, who investigated the situation for 10 months, prepare a written report that includes her conclusions as to this and other specific incidents that may be disputed by Snyder or others with the team. Who’s telling the truth? Wilkinson is in the unique position to make a decision, especially since she had the power to speak to other witnesses who may have corroborated Johnston or Snyder.
Wilkinson, for example, may have spoken to Jason Friedman, a former team V.P. of sales and customer service for more than two decades. Friedman submitted a letter to the Committee supporting Johnston’s version of the events.
“I witnessed Dan Snyder grab the arm of my coworker, Tiffani Johnston, and attempt to pull her into his limousine,” Friedman wrote. “I was shocked. Thankfully, Tiffani was able to quickly pull away.”
Wilkinson was retained to get to the bottom of these matters. After she did, the NFL instructed her not to reduce her report to writing. The Johnston claims illustrate that the report may have included a finding by the investigator that Snyder actually engaged in the behavior — and that he necessarily lied about it when denying it during the investigation. If that had come out, he may have been forced to sell the team.
That’s why it’s inexcusable that the NFL has refused to allow Wilkinson to put her report in writing. That’s why pressure must continue to be placed on the NFL to quit hiding the truth.
It nevertheless will continue to do so. I believe it’s happening because the NFL is hiding something huge. Huge enough to justify clumsy, disingenuous, and shameful efforts to conceal the facts that Wilkinson was paid to uncover.
UPDATE 10:17 p.m. ET: The league contends that Johnston did not participate in the Wilkinson investigation, and that Johnston’s allegations are “new.” Regardless, Wilkinson should investigate, and her report should be published.