The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because the discussions are private.
Snyder’s ownership of the team has been widely debated for years amid several scandals and investigations into workplace conduct in Washington. It became a hotter topic Thursday following an ESPN report detailing Snyder’s efforts to influence other owners and the league office to maintain control of the team.
ESPN reported, citing anonymous sources, Snyder has hired private investigators and told people he has enough information to expose fellow owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The Commanders are denying the contents of the report. In a statement sent to the AP, a team spokesperson called it “categorically untrue” and “clearly part of a well-funded, two-year campaign to coerce the sale of the team, which will continue to be unsuccessful.”
Holland & Knight, one of the law firms representing Snyder, did not immediately respond to a message seeking a response to the report.
Following Washington's 12-7 victory at Chicago on Thursday night that stopped a four-game slide, coach Ron Rivera said he is focused on his team and that his players should be recognized for their resilience. He also angrily insisted he wanted the team to trade for quarterback Carson Wentz, refuting the ESPN report that Snyder was behind the move.
“The young man doesn’t deserve to have that all the time. I’m sorry. I’m done,” Rivera said before departing the media room.
Snyder has owned the team since 1999. He and the organization are currently the subject of ongoing investigations by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform and former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, who is conducting a new review on behalf of the NFL.
Last month, league executive Jeff Miller said there was no timeline for the completion of White's investigation. Lisa Banks, who represents more than 40 former team employees, among whom some have spoken to White, voiced disappointment about the owners' plan not to vote on Snyder but expects new findings to change that trajectory.
“I think they’re waiting, and they’ve indicated in the past that they’re going to wait, to see what Mary Jo White’s report says before making any decisions,” Banks said in a phone interview Thursday. “But I expect that after they have that report, they will have plenty to base a removal on, if they choose to do that. I only hope they have the courage to do that.”
Banks said clients of hers and colleague Debra Katz have been cooperating with the active league and congressional investigations but have not heard back from the NFL office about offers to speak to Goodell or a representative about their experiences.
The current reviews come on the heels of the league's initial independent investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson's firm commissioned in 2020, which found Washington's workplace culture to be toxic. Snyder and the team were fined $10 million in July 2021, and the league said he turned day-to-day operations over to wife Tanya, but no written report of the findings was released.
The lack of a written report prompted Congress to investigate, and officials invited Snyder and Goodell to testify. Goodell appeared at a public hearing in June. Snyder testified in a private deposition for more than 10 hours in July, the transcript of which has still yet to be released.
A spokesperson for the House Committee on Oversight and Reform had no update other than to say the investigation is ongoing.
The day before Goodell testified, the committee released a 29-page memo about its investigation, saying Snyder tried to discredit those accusing him and other club executives of misconduct and tried to influence Wilkinson's investigation.
“The Committee’s investigation also sheds light on the extent of Mr. Snyder’s role in creating and fostering the Commanders’ toxic workplace,” the memo said. “This new evidence suggests that Mr. Snyder’s efforts to influence the Wilkinson Investigation may have been intended to conceal or distract from his own role in this troubling conduct.”
According to the congressional memo, Snyder “endeavored to dissuade his accusers from cooperating with the Wilkinson investigation by sending private investigators to their homes or offering them hush money.”
AP National Writer Howard Fendrich, AP Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon and AP Sports Writer Jay Cohen contributed to this report.
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