Rep. Jim Jordan may soon find himself on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The Ohio Republican could temporarily be assigned to the panel as a strategic move by House GOP leadership ahead of impending public hearings in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, CBS News reported.
Top House Republicans have been having “active and serious” discussions about adding Jordan, who is currently the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, to the Intelligence Committee, a senior Republican source told CBS News.
Jordan is considered a strong defender of the president and a great choice to counter Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who is leading the impeachment inquiry as chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Republican questioning of witnesses in the closed-door depositions has been largely led by Jordan’s chief investigative counsel on the House Oversight Committee, Steve Castor.
Jordan has effectively been leading GOP efforts in the impeachment proceedings so far where three committees have held closed-door hearings. A fierce critic of Schiff and Democrats running the impeachment proceedings, Jordan would be blocked from participating in any public hearings the Intelligence Committee will soon be conducting due to the House resolution passed last week.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy reserves discretion in making Intelligence Committee assignments but would have to move another member out in order to make a spot for Jordan. The change could appear as a lack of confidence in GOP ranking member of the Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, the California congressman who has not played a more visibly prominent role in the proceedings so far.
“Democrats have turned the Intelligence Committee into an impeachment committee,” the senior Republican aide told CBS News. “We are interested in putting together the best team.”
Transcripts of depositions held in October with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and former State Department adviser Michael McKinley were released Monday and only two Republicans spoke to reporters outside of the hearing room afterward. One of them was Jordan, who defended Trump’s phone call with the Ukraine president which sparked the impeachment inquiry, saying the president “can talk with foreign heads of state how he wants.”
Jordan appeared to reject an offer over the weekend from the lawyer for the anonymous whistleblower to provide written answers to questions from House Republicans rather than appear in person before Congress.
“You don’t get to ignite an impeachment effort and never account for your actions and role in orchestrating it,” he said.
According to CBS News:
While Nunes has attended some of the closed-door depositions, he has less experience running high-profile investigations and keeps a lower media profile. Nunes asked no questions of McKinley and did not attend the Yovanovitch deposition. Jordan, on the other hand, questioned both of them extensively.
“To defend this president, you have to live in his alternative universe,” a Democratic lawmaker attending those hearings told CBS News, adding that Nunes has only put in a short appearance at the depositions “to b–ch about this and then he leaves.”
When Republicans held the majority on the House, Nunes served as the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. His claim to have documents showing that the Obama administration spied on Trump’s 2016 campaign was followed by his recusal from the committee’s Russia investigation.
ANd Jordan has continued to hammer the message that the president did nothing wrong in his July phone call with the Ukraine leader and the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is baseless.
— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) November 4, 2019
Although House rules allow Republicans to make the unprecedented move, it is not yet clear if McCarthy will follow through on the reported discussions.
“It’s a select committee. They can do whatever they want,” the Democratic lawmaker told CBS News. “They can say, for the purposes of this investigation, Jordan is a member of the committee. I don’t think we can fight that.”
House permanent select committee rules require that the number of members from each party must remain the same on the panel but the individual members on the roster can change. Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas is the newest member of the Intelligence Committee and currently, Texas GOP Reps. Will Hurd and Mike Conaway are both set to retire at the end of their terms.
Rep. Mark Meadows saw the potential addition of Jordan as a “good” thing but noted the current GOOP members are also “very capable.”
“Jim Jordan would be a good addition to augment the HPSCI team but there is no doubt that they are very capable should his addition not be plausible,” the North Carolina lawmaker told CBS News.