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Jim Jordan Doesn’t Want to Grapple with the Truth

Why won’t the wrestling-coach-turned-congressional-Trump-sycophant testify before the Jan. 6th committee?
January 12, 2022
Jim Jordan Doesn’t Want to Grapple with the Truth
(L-R) Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) attend a news conference on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to reject two of Leader McCarthy’s selected members from serving on the committee investigating the January 6th riots on July 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

In his speech tearing into the Jan. 6th insurrectionists on the anniversary of the attack, President Joe Biden quoted the biblical aphorism “the truth shall make us free.” That might be spiritually true, but in the physical realm, for some, like Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the truth could get them locked up.

And so over the weekend, Jordan wrote the House committee investigating Jan. 6th that he would decline its invitation to testify voluntarily under oath.

Jordan, the former assistant wrestling coach from Ohio State, used all three of his well-practiced moves for trying to slip out from under the weight of the facts bearing down upon him: deceive, spread mistruth, and lie.

The deceit: He declared that he had “no relevant testimony” to give, that the invitation was “unprecedented and inappropriate,” and that it was an attempt to “pry into the deliberative process informing a Member about legislative matters before the House.”

The mistruth: Jordan has admitted speaking to former President Trump at least twice on Jan. 6, 2021. That automatically makes his testimony relevant.

Moreover, his responses when asked about the conversations he had that day with Trump are telling. On July 27, 2021, when Fox News’s Bret Baier asked Jordan point-blank “Did you talk to the former president that day?” Jordan was cagey, then tried to distract Baier, then became defensive, then settled on a risible non-denial: “I’ve talked to the president—so many, I can’t remember all the days I’ve talked to him, but I’ve certainly talked to the president.”

The next day, Jordan admitted, with a lot of “uhs” and stammers, to having had a conversation with Trump on Jan. 6. Finally, on August 29, 2021—days after the chairman of the Jan. 6th committee said he would be seeking records from the major phone carriers, including records of phone calls involving lawmakers—Jordan acknowledged that he had had spoken with Trump “more than once” on the day of the insurrection.

There are notable historical precedents for members of Congress testifying before committees. Among them, in 1872, Speaker of the House James G. Blaine himself testified before a House committee investigating the Union Pacific Railroad’s “Crédit Mobilier” scandal.

Then the lie: There’s nothing remotely connected to the deliberative legislative process about speaking to Trump before, during, or after the Capitol riot—unless, like the committee investigating Jan. 6th, you are trying to figure out how to prevent another. That’s not what was going on with Jim Jordan. He has tied himself relentlessly to Trump’s mast of disinformation and lies.

Jordan is experienced at claiming, if it helps exonerate him, that black is white, white is black, and the sun rotates around earth. In 2018 and 2019, six former wrestlers and a professional wrestling referee accused him of knowing, while coaching at Ohio State, that the athletic department’s physician sexually abused student athletes from the 1970s through the 1990s. One former student described how Jordan came to him “crying, crying, groveling . . . begging me” for help to counter the allegations.

Jordan has denied all the accusations. But we never heard him offer any explanation of why so many accusers would falsely accuse him. Who do you believe, me or those lying seven other people with no motive to cover up the truth?

So no one should be surprised when, back on October 20, 2021, Jordan lied in response to being asked in a House Rules Committee hearing, whether he would be willing to testify before the Select Committee. “I’ve said all along, ‘I have nothing to hide.’ I’ve been straightforward all along.”

Guess not.

What might Jordan have to hide? The committee seeks to ask him not only about his conversations with Trump but about information he may have “about meetings with White House officials” regarding “strategies for overturning the results of the 2020 election.” In fact, Jordan sent a text to Mark Meadows on Jan. 5 laying out a strategy for Vice President Mike Pence to block the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election.

The committee has also sought “any communications [he] had on January 5th or 6th with those in the Willard War Room . . . involved in organizing or planning the actions and strategies for January 6th.” In that “war room”—reportedly paid for by the Trump campaign—were Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon, and law professor John Eastman.

Jordan joins the small cabal of inner-circle Trump advisers who have stonewalled the committee: Bannon, Eastman, Jeffrey B. Clark (who was acting assistant attorney general at the end of Trump’s term), and Rep. Scott Perry, whose predecessors as head of the conservative Republican House Freedom Caucus include Jordan and Meadows. Reports place Perry in the middle of efforts to turn the post-election Trump administration Justice Department into an engine for promoting the Big Lie.

It’s not surprising that those closest to Trump are refusing to provide testimony. He, too, is hiding behind untenable claims of executive privilege to keep documents secret. Those who do not fear the truth tend to share it.

The Jan. 6th Committee may or may not subpoena Jordan and Perry and get their testimony. Given the mountains of documents and deposition testimony collected, however, failure to depose a few will not obstruct the search for truth. The same goes for the bevy of fake excuses that Jordan unloaded to cover his fear of testifying under oath.

The truth will set you free. Unless it pins you.

Dennis Aftergut

Dennis Aftergut, a former assistant U.S. attorney and former Supreme Court advocate, is currently of counsel to Lawyers Defending American Democracy.