Nessel, Engler 'at an impasse' over interview in MSU investigation

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Michigan State University Interim President John Engler answers questions from The Detroit News Editorial Board and reporters in the Tony Snow conference room at The Detroit News in downtown Detroit on Friday, January 11, 2019.

Mackinac Island — Attorney General Dana Nessel said her office is “at an impasse” with Michigan State University’s former interim president John Engler regarding an interview for Nessel’s investigation into the university Larry Nassar scandal.

Engler’s unwillingness to be interviewed about the university's handling of complaints against former sports medicine doctor Nassar will not stop Nessel’s office from completing its investigation, she said, “but we won’t have as much information.”

Nessel said she won’t put up with Engler’s “forum shopping” or excuses regarding his lack of availability for an interview.

“It’s not because he never comes to Michigan,” Nessel said. “It’s because he doesn’t want to be interviewed in a state where I have prosecutorial authority. He doesn’t want to be interviewed in a state where ... he can be held responsible in the event that he makes intentional misrepresentations.”

When contacted by The Detroit News Wednesday, Engler said he had a call on the other line and hung up. A request for comment sent to Engler’s lawyer was not immediately returned.

Nessel requested an interview with Engler in January around the same time the former governor resigned under pressure after a year at the helm of MSU. He had replaced former President Lou Anna Simon, who resigned in the wake of the scandal involving serial pedophile Nassar.

In April, Engler’s lawyer Seth B. Waxman said Engler had not been contacted by Nessel’s office since it cancelled a scheduled March interview in D.C. Nessel’s office has said it was only willing to meet with Engler in D.C. if he was unavailable in Michigan.

Engler has attended several MSU sporting events during that time period.

In March, Waxman objected to having Engler be interviewed by Christina Grossi, who is the lead assistant attorney general in the MSU probe. He argued that Grossi had "prejudged Mr. Engler's veracity and motives without ever talking to him" and wrote that Grossi demonstrated a "personal bias against Mr. Engler." 

When university trustees urged Engler to meet with Nessel in an April letter, Waxman responded that Engler “at all times offered, and made himself available, to meet with the Attorney General’s Office.”

(517) 371-3661