With Donald Trump endorsing loud ally Rep. Jim Jordan for the speakership of the House, fellow Trump ally Rep. Steve Scalise's bid for the position may look futile. The whole point of Republicanism the last few years has been to purge anyone who might refuse to do what Trump says, so anyone with House Republican membership in 2023 is almost by definition there because they have promised to govern entirely from inside Trump's colon.
But Jordan's still got to make his own case. He had a go at it Friday morning, telling CNN reporter Manu Raju that the speaker's race will come down to "who can go tell the country what we're doing."
The odds are nine in 10 that you've never before heard Jordan use an indoor voice, as opposed to his usual "shrieking toddler furiously demanding to know why his diaper just got heavier" voice. In terms of telling the nation what House Republicans are doing, that would become trivially easy under a Jordan speakership. Jordan has devoted his House career to one issue above all others: letting Republicans get away with crimes.
Jordan's skill in letting people get away with crimes is how he became the shrieking voice of Republicanism that he's become. In 2018, Jordan was named by multiple former Ohio State wrestlers as one of the school officials who had been aware of the sexual molestation of athletes by team doctor Richard Strauss. Faced with multiple accusers who relayed specific instances and conversations with Jordan, Jordan loudly denied everything and reportedly pressured at least one former student to lie about it. Soon, he and his office began claiming that it was his accusers who were lying, not him.
Jordan's star began to rise immediately after that. The caucus apparently went starry-eyed at the vehemence with which Jordan attacked his accusers, and Jordan soon became the angry sweating voice of every House committee, probe, and publicity stunt he could be wedged into.
It's not overstating things to say that allowing allies to get away with crimes has been Jordan's top congressional focus. Before the sexual abuse allegations surfaced in 2018, Jordan had already become a face of the Republican obstruction of the probe into 2016 Russian election interference, dismissing federal intelligence assessments with new assertions that the probe was a political ploy by Trump-hating government officials. By 2019, he had been stuffed into the House Intelligence Committee as a temporary measure to act as "attack dog" in the House impeachment hearings resulting from Trump holding up military aid to Ukraine in order to extort anti-Biden propaganda from the Ukrainian government.
He would play similar roles until January 2021, when he joined a seditious conspiracy to nullify a constitutional election on Trump's behalf so that Trump could fraudulently declare himself the winner. Jordan was one of 126 House Republicans who signed an amicus brief to a Texas-led lawsuit asking for the results of multiple Joe Biden-won states to be declared invalid.
On Jan. 5, 2021, Jordan contacted White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to promote the theory that then-Vice President Mike Pence could unilaterally block the counting of votes from Biden-won states. He is also known to have spoken "at length" with Trump on the morning of Jan. 6.
After insurrectionists had been removed from the Capitol on Jan. 6, Jordan was among those who still voted to contest the election's results.
Jordan later refused to testify about his own role and communications during the coup attempt, going so far as to defy a congressional subpoena demanding it.
Jordan was almost certainly aware that the acts he helped facilitate were criminal. He was named as one of seven House Republicans who had probed the White House about potential pardons for House members who had facilitated what became a violent attempted coup.
His role in the post-failed-coup Congress has further congealed around support for Trump's criminal acts. When Trump was indicted in New York over hush money payments made during his 2016 campaign, Jordan demanded prosecutors' documents in the case—while coordinating his actions with Trump himself. Jordan similarly demanded the evidence against Trump be turned over after Trump was indicted in Georgia for his attempted election tampering.
Against the two federal indictments against Trump, Jordan's threats shift into the realm of the bizarre. He has thrown his weight behind plans to block funding from the federal departments and agencies behind the indictments. If the only way to keep Trump out of jail is to disband federal law enforcement efforts wholesale, Jordan and other coup supporters are willing to consider it.
It would be brazenly close to a criminal racketeering scheme if Jordan did not have the unique protections of Congress to hide behind. And all of that stands apart from his other major new effort: to impeach Biden or indict members of his family, even with faked evidence or none at all.
Jordan's view of law and order is consistent. For at least three decades, when faced with a crime committed by an ally, Jordan has sought to ignore it, cover it up, and attack those who discovered it. Against his enemies, there seems no evidence too flimsy for Jordan to claim as proof. It's an unambiguously fascist approach, to be sure, but in starker terms, it is simply crooked as hell. Jordan is on board with whatever criminality his allies may attempt and can be counted on to sabotage justice wherever he can.
There's a very good case to be made that it's Jordan who is the crookedest politician in Washington, D.C. Not Rep. George Santos, indicted though he may be. Not Sen. Bob Menendez, hidden gold bars or no. Jordan's acts to immunize Republican criminality don't stem from schemes of self-enrichment; he appears to truly believe that Republicans ought to be able to commit crimes for the sake of the Republican "movement," and that the movement is obliged to sabotage probes and indictments of those that do.
So that's what Republicans will be "doing" under a Jordan speakership: sabotaging laws outright to allow criminality in their own ranks. It's what he's based his career on. It's the reason Trump counts him as an ally. It's why Republicans embraced him and elevated him to begin with. And if the party is bent on becoming a criminal enterprise and coup-supporting opponents of democracy itself, they would be hard pressed to find a better spokesman than an abuse-enabling, crime-defending, unabashed crook.
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