“That fucking guy Jim Jordan. That son of a bitch,” Liz Cheney, a Republican congresswoman from Wyoming, told the chairman of the joint chiefs, Gen Mark Milley, about the Republican congressman from Ohio, according to I Alone Can Fix It, by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.
“While these maniacs are going through the place,” said Cheney, about the insurrection at the Capitol on 6 January, “I’m standing in the aisle and he said, ‘We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you.’ I smacked his hand away and told him, ‘Get away from me. You fucking did this.’”
When the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, a congressman from California, named Jordan and Jim Banks, of Indiana, both of whom challenged the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory, to join the 13-member select committee on the Capitol insurrection, Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the two men.
“With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the select committee,” Pelosi stated.
Jordan had said: “Americans instinctively know there was something wrong with this election.”
Banks had questioned “the legality of some votes cast in the 2020 election” and charged: “Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the left’s authoritarian agenda.”
McCarthy responded by withdrawing all of his five Republicans from participation in the investigation.
Jim Jordan is a wiry, hyperactive bundle of nerves who tosses off his suit jacket, coiled to leap into the ring and twist the arms of his opponents. The former college wrestling champion in the 134lb class represents the locker-room jock culture in the House of Representatives, snapping his towel in committee hearings to show off his primacy as an alpha big man on campus. Jordan’s political moves are drawn from his wrestling repertoire: the leg shot, the half-nelson and the slam.
From 1987 to 1995, Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach at the Ohio State University, where many athletes claim he knew about and turned a blind eye to Dr Richard Strauss’s sexual abuse of at least 177 students. Jordan has denied that he engaged in a cover-up. One of the abused wrestlers, Mark Coleman, who was a close friend and roommate of Jordan and became an Ultimate Fighting Champion, told the Wall Street Journal (in comments he would later retract): “There’s no way unless he’s got dementia or something that he’s got no recollection of what was going on at Ohio State.” Another abused wrestler, Dunyasha Yetts, said: “If Jordan says he didn’t know about it then he’s lying.” Jordan refused to cooperate with the university’s investigation: goodbye, Columbus.
The report on the abuse, issued in 2019 by the law firm hired by OSU to conduct the investigation, Perkins Coie, concluded that Strauss’s predatory sexual behavior was an “open secret”, according to students, and that “coaches, trainers and other team physicians were fully aware of Strauss’ activities, and yet few seemed inclined to do anything to stop it.” (Strauss killed himself in 2005.)
At a hearing held by the Ohio state legislature’s civil justice committee, in February 2020, Adam DiSabato, an OSU wrestling champion, testified that Jordan tried to get him to persuade his brother, another OSU wrestler, Mike DiSabato, who was a whistleblower about the abuse, to withdraw his statement. Every year as assistant coach, Jordan awarded a “King of Sauna” certificate to the wrestler “who talked the most smack”, reported the Columbus Dispatch. According to Mike DiSabato, Jordan was in the sauna daily, where much of the sexual molestation took place. “Jim Jordan called me crying, crying, groveling, on the Fourth of July … begging me to go against my brother, begging me, crying for half an hour,” Adam DiSabato said at the hearing. “That’s the kind of cover-up that’s going on here. He’s a coward. He’s a coward.”
After serving in the Ohio legislature, Jordan entered national politics in the interregnum of rightwing extremism between the fall of Newt Gingrich and the rise of the Tea Party. He was elected to the House in 2006, during a midterm Democratic sweep that put them into the majority, but the backbencher vaulted suddenly into prominence when the Republicans captured the House in the reaction to the Obama administration in 2010. Elected by the emboldened conservative faction to head the Republican Study Group, he sought to trip up the Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner, eventually forcing the federal government shutdown of 2013, which Boehner denounced as “fucking stupid”.
Jordan founded the House Freedom Caucus, more radical than the Republican Study Group, to push Boehner out. “Anarchists,” Boehner called them. “They want total chaos.” He singled out Jordan as “a legislative terrorist”. Boehner quit under the pressure in 2015. In an interview with CBS about his memoir published this year, On the House, Boehner remarked about Jordan: “I just never saw a guy who spent more time tearing things apart – never building anything, never putting anything together.”
Liz Cheney, who Pelosi has appointed to the select committee, and was stripped of her position as chair of the House Republican Conference in an effort led by Jordan, said McCarthy named Jordan to the committee in order to sabotage it.
“At every opportunity, the minority leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened, to block this investigation,” she stated. Jordan, she pointed out, could also not serve on the committee because he “may well be a material witness to events that led to that day, that led to 6 January”.
The questions that Jordan may be asked if he were to testify would cover his knowledge and involvement in the planning, organization and funding of the insurrection, as well as his participation in the concerted effort to prevent the constitutional certification of the presidential election and the propagation of Trump’s “big lie” that the election was a fraud and stolen.
1) On 20 October, Jim Jordan tweeted: “Democrats are trying to steal the election, before the election.” He objected to the Pennsylvania supreme court’s decision to allow the counting of ballots postmarked on or before but received up to three days after election day, as an attempt “to steal the election”. (Pennsylvania never did count those ballots in determining certification of Biden as the winner of the state and the total votes affected by the procedure were minuscule compared with the margin of victory.)
What does Jordan know about the creation of the “stop the steal” myth? Were his statements about a fraudulent election and attacking the Pennsylvania supreme court for its role in “stealing the election” made in coordination with anyone at the White House or known to them in advance? If he got marching orders, where did he get them from?
2) Two days after the election, Jordan was a speaker of a “Stop the Steal” rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, before the state capitol. The rally was organized by Scott Presler, a former field director for the Virginia Republican party, speaker at the 2020 Conservative Political Action Conference, and activist for ACT for America, cited by the Anti-Defamation League as an anti-Muslim hate group and labeled an “extremist hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Jim Jordan stands with dozens of people calling for stopping the vote count in Pennsylvania, in Harrisburg on 5 November. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
“The private Facebook page used to organize the events was full of extreme anti-Muslim and white nationalist rhetoric and went unpoliced despite the fact that new ACT hire Scott Presler was an administrator for the group,” the SPLC reported.
Presler mobilized support for the 6 January “Stop the Steal” rally. “I will 100% be in DC on January 6th to support President Trump. Who’s going?” he posted on his Facebook page on 22 December. He tweeted a video showing his presence in the crowd on 6 January before the Capitol.
Who funded the Harrisburg rally? What is Jordan’s relationship to Scott Presler? What are the communications between Jordan, his staff and Presler?
3) On 11 January, the same day an article of impeachment was filed in the House against Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection”, Trump awarded Jordan the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a closed ceremony at the White House.
The White House cited his defense of Trump in the investigation conducted by the former FBI director Robert Mueller into Russian influence to elect Trump in the 2016 campaign and in the first impeachment of Trump for seeking to bribe the government of Ukraine in exchange for fabricated political dirt about Joe Biden.
Jordan was being honored, according to the White House statement, because he had “worked to unmask the Russia hoax and take on deep state corruption – confronting senior justice department officials for obstructing Congress and exposing the fraudulent origins of the Russia collusion lie”, and had “led the effort to confront the impeachment witch hunt”.
What conversations did Jordan have at the ceremony with Trump or others about overturning the election and how to defend Trump?
4) On 18 November, Jordan called on Congress to investigate the election “amid troubling reports of irregularities and improprieties” – though he presented no factual evidence. On 4 December, Jordan tweeted: “Over 50 million Americans think this election was stolen. That’s more than one third of the electorate. For that reason alone, we owe it to the country to investigate election integrity.”
During an interview with CNN on 7 December, Jordan was asked whether Trump should concede the election.
“No. No way, no way, no way,” he replied. He claimed there were “all kinds of crazy things happening in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, all these in Nevada.” He stated no facts. During an interview on Fox News on 9 December, Jordan said: “I don’t know how you can ever convince me that President Trump didn’t actually win this thing based on all the things you see.” He offered nothing that anyone had seen.
Did Jordan coordinate his statements with Trump, the White House staff, other Republican House members, or Trump’s legal team led by Rudy Giuliani?
5) On 21 December, Jordan attended private meetings at the White House with Trump and several other Republican House members “where they strategized over a last-ditch effort to overturn the election results”, Politico reported. “It was a back-and-forth concerning the planning and strategy for 6 January,” said Representative Mo Brooks, a Republican congressman from Alabama.
What was said at that meeting? What were those plans? Was the rally discussed? Was the idea discussed of sending Trump supporters to intimidate and interrupt members of Congress in the certification process? Was Jordan’s role on the House floor on 6 January against certification raised at that meeting? What did Jordan say?
6) On Saturday night, 2 January, Jordan participated in a call organized by the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, with Trump and 50 House members and senators “to address their goal of overturning certain states’ electoral college results on Wednesday”, according to Fox News. On Sunday morning, 3 January, Jordan and Brooks appeared together on Fox News to discuss their strategy. Jordan stated that Republican members of Congress were the “ultimate arbiter here, the ultimate check and balance”, on the “unconstitutional” certification of the election results on 6 January. Again, Jordan presented no evidence of fraud. Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, called the actions led by Jordan and others an “egregious ploy”.
Did Jordan broadcast falsehoods in order to encourage Trump supporters to come to Washington on 6 January?
7) On 5 January, Brian Jack, the political director in the White House, called Mo Brooks to ask him to address the “Stop the Steal” rally on 6 January. “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” Brooks shouted at the 6 January rally “Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? Louder! Will you fight for America?” Subsequently, Kevin McCarthy hired Brian Jack as his political director.
What does Jordan know about Brian Jack’s role in the organization of the January rally? Did he speak with Brian Jack about the planning and the rally? Has he spoken to him since about the events of 6 January?
8) On 5 January, Adam Piper, the executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association (Raga), participated in a call organized by the White House to help plan the rally and events of 6 January. The non-profit arm of Raga, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, promoted attendance at the rally through robocalls to Republican activists. “At 1pm, we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” said the robocall, according to the investigative organization Documented. “We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections.”
What does Jordan know about Raga’s involvement? Did Jordan speak with any donors or groups about funding or participating in the events of 6 January? Did anyone ask him to raise money or speak with anyone organizing for 6 January?
9) For several days before 6 January, Democratic members of the House said they observed a number of Republican members giving what appeared to be tours of the Capitol to groups of people who may have later participated in the insurrection. Representative Mikie Sherrill, a Democrat from New Jersey, said she witnessed Republican House members on 5 January conducting what she described as a walk-through for “reconnaissance for the next day”.
“Those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on 5 January, a reconnaissance for the next day, those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd,” Sherrill said, “those members who attempted to help our president undermine our democracy, I’m going to see that they’re held accountable.”
On 13 January, 30 Democratic House members signed a letter calling for an investigation of these “tours” by the House and Senate sergeant-at-arms and the Capitol police. “Members of the group that attacked the Capitol seemed to have an unusually detailed knowledge of the layout of the Capitol complex. The presence of these groups within the Capitol complex was indeed suspicious,” they stated. “Given the events of 6 January, the ties between these groups inside the Capitol complex and the attacks on the Capitol need to be investigated.”
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democratic congresswoman from Florida, said: “I do know that, yes, there were members that gave tours to individuals who participated in the riot.”
Kevin McCarthy, Jordan and Lauren Boebert listen to Joe Biden’s address to Congress, in April. Photograph: Getty Images
Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, stated he and John Yarmouth, a Democrat from Kentucky, saw Lauren Boebert, a Republican congresswoman from Colorado, a far-right advocate of antisemitic QAnon conspiracies who has equated vaccinations with Nazism, leading a “large group” through the Capitol complex in the days before the insurrection. She denied she had led any such “tours”.
Tim Ryan, a Democratic congressman from Ohio, disclosed that federal prosecutors are “reviewing the footage” of video taken within the Capitol to determine if any House members engaged in “reconnaissance” missions with insurrectionists.
“Today is 1776,” Boebert tweeted on the morning of 6 January. On 24 July, Jim Jordan appeared at a fundraising event with Boebert in her district at the Mesa county Republican party, which in June posted on its Facebook page a conspiracy theory that George Floyd’s murder was a hoax.
Congressman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi and chair of the House select committee, was asked if he would depose members of the Congress about their involvement. He replied: “Absolutely. Nothing is off limits.”
Does Jordan support the select committee deposing House Republican members and others to determine whether they conducted “reconnaissance” of the Capitol with leaders of the insurrection before 6 January? Has he discussed 6 January with Boebert?
10) On the morning of 6 January, as Trump supporters gathered at the Ellipse near the White House for the “Stop the Steal” rally, Jordan rose in the House chamber to object to accepting the presidential electors certified by Arizona.
There was, he claimed, “something wrong with this election … Somehow the guy who never left his house wins the election? Sixty million Americans think it was stolen.” He rattled off a series of conspiracy theories. “All the Democrats care about is making sure that President Trump isn’t president. For four and a half years that’s all they’ve cared about.”
He mentioned a former FBI director: “Jim Comey opens an investigation on the president based on nothing.” He referred to Robert Mueller: “The Russia hoax … for nothing.” He raised the impeachment of Trump, “based on an anonymous whistleblower who worked for Joe Biden”. It was all, Jordan said, “a pattern” that “violated the constitution … an end run around the constitution”.
In conclusion, he called for the Arizona electors to be disqualified. The Republicans cheered. As the Congress began debating the objection, at 1.30pm, the mob breached police lines and invaded the Capitol. They chanted “Hang Mike Pence” and shortly after 2pm started to force their way into the House chamber.
As members raced to evacuate, Cheney states that Jordan grabbed her arm, saying: “We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you.” After the violence was quelled and order restored, leaving five dead and many of the police injured, and when the proceeding resumed that evening with Pence presiding, Jordan voted with 138 other representatives to overturn the election results.
Did the Trump White House or his legal team review his speech before it was delivered? Did he communicate with anyone at the White House in the hours between the suspension of the certification and its resumption?
11) On 12 January, in a hearing of the House rules committee, the chair, Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said to Jordan: “I’m glad that all it took for you to call for unity was for our democracy to be attacked, but the last several months the gentleman from Ohio and others have given oxygen to the president’s conspiracy theories … people came to the Capitol building to launch a coup … I’m asking you to make a statement that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won fair and square.”
Jordan replied: “He is President-elect Joe Biden … in some states the rules were changed in unconstitutional fashion.”
“You refuse to answer that question,” said McGovern. “That is not the question I asked.”
Jordan finally claimed: “I never once said that this thing was stolen.”
Why, then, did he tweet that the election was being stolen before it had occurred, appear at a “Stop the Steal” rally and claim that “crazy things” had changed the vote in swing states in addition to many other statements?
12) On 13 January, Jordan joined with Paul Gosar from Arizona to call for Cheney’s removal as chair of the House Republican conference, for supporting the impeachment of Donald Trump for inciting the insurrection. According to Ali Alexander, a far-right activist and conspiracy theorist, he, Gosar, Mo Brooks and Andy Biggs, from Arizona, conceived of the idea of the January rally.
“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said.
Gosar appeared at more than a dozen “Stop the Steal” rallies and just after noon on 6 January he tweeted a photograph of the mob massed at the Capitol and this message: “Biden should concede. I want his concession on my desk tomorrow morning. Don’t make me come over there.”
On 10 March, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington, sent a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics requesting an investigation of Boebert, Brooks and Gosar for “instigating and aiding” the insurrection.
Does Jim Jordan support this investigation and would he approve the select committee deposing Gosar, Brooks and Biggs?
13) On 9 February, Jordan posted an op-ed on the Fox News website stating: “President Trump did not incite the violence of 6 January.” He wrote: “At the end of the day, Democrats don’t want President Trump to run for office again. Hopefully, one day, he’ll get to do it again.”
Is Jordan trying to protect Trump’s political viability for the 2024 election? Does Jordan object to the select committee deposing Trump?
14) On 15 February, Jordan tweeted: “Capitol police requested national guard help prior to 6 January. That request was denied by Speaker Pelosi and her Sergeant at Arms.” His assertion was flatly false.
“Instead, public testimony shows she did not even hear about the request until two days later,” wrote Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post. He awarded Jordan’s claim “four Pinocchios”. Can Jordan explain how this misinformation was manufactured?
15) On 20 May, Liz Cheney was questioned on ABC News’s This Week about whether Kevin McCarthy should be subpoenaed by the investigating committee. “He absolutely should, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he were subpoenaed,” she said. According to Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington, McCarthy called Trump during the siege of the Capitol to ask him publicly to call off the rioters.
Jordan leaves Trump’s stage in Wellington, Ohio in June. Photograph: Andrew Dolph/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock
“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump was quoted as saying. McCarthy reportedly responded, “Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?” Yet, on 12 January, on the eve of Trump’s second impeachment, McCarthy told Fox News: “President Trump won this election, so everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes … join together and let’s stop this.”
Does Jordan support the select committee deposing Beutler and McCarthy to answer questions about this incident?
16) Jim Jordan told the Washington Post that he should not testify about 6 January.
“I think this commission is ridiculous, and why would they subpoena me? I didn’t do anything wrong – I talked to the president. I talk to the president all the time. I just think that’s – you know where I’m at on this commission – this is all about going after President Trump. That seems obvious.”
Did Jordan speak with Trump on 6 January during the insurrection? Did he speak with him about it after about the event? Will Jordan cooperate with the select committee as a witness or will he stonewall it as he did the investigation into the sexual abuse at OSU? Will he honor a subpoena or force the sergeant-at-arms to wrestle with him to enforce it?
Sidney Blumenthal, former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, has published three books of a projected five-volume political life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man, Wrestling With His Angel and All the Powers of Earth