For anyone who watched the 2019 House impeachment of Donald Trump for denying military aid to Ukraine, it’s probably no surprise that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) wasn’t a completely impartial investigator.
But a new book about Trump’s two impeachment trials details how Jordan worked to paint the Ukraine scandal as nothing – even though he knew there was other damning information that had yet to come out – and defended Trump’s stonewalling tactics, even when he disagreed and tried to convince the president to cooperate.
In “Not verified”, Politics Rachel Bade and The Washington PostKaroun Demirjian explained how Jordan worked his way into Trump’s inner circle, became a key defender for the president, misled the media with strategic leaks and defended Trump’s decisions to block key testimony.
Jordan’s staff did not respond to a request for comment.
In October 2019, Jordan knew Trump was considering an explosive letter from White House attorney Pat Cipollone that would refuse to hand over documents and block testimony from some administration officials, according to exclusive excerpts from the book that The Daily Beast obtained. But the morning the House impeachment panel was scheduled to question US Ambassador to the European Union Gordan Sondland, the Trump administration blocked Sondland’s appearance. And Jordan was just as surprised as everyone else.
“When Jordan came into SCIF with [Steve] beaver and [Mark] Meadows on Tuesday, October 8, the morning of Sondland’s scheduled testimony, they were shocked to find the ambassador was not there. Just before 7 a.m., Cipollone — on Trump’s orders — had asked State Department officials to stop the interview from moving forward. No one, however, had bothered to warn Trump’s top defenders on Capitol Hill. And Jordan and Castor were not happy,” reads an excerpt from the book.
Jordan and Castor, the GOP’s lead attorney for Trump’s first impeachment, knew Sondland’s testimony would be damning, that he planned to say the president had indeed engaged in quid pro quo. But their plan was to try to catch Sondland lying and then argue that none of his testimony should be trusted because he had theoretically perjured himself.
“It was a brazen strategy that showed once again how House Republicans were more concerned with finding ways to protect their party leader than learning the truth about what happened,” we read in the book. “But Sondland’s no-show deprived them of a chance to test their new playbook.”
“As Jordan left SCIF, reporters poured in, demanding to know why the administration had blocked Sondland’s testimony. Disturbed as he was, Jordan swallowed his frustration and loyally defended the White House’s decision as warranted,” the book continues. “The administration ‘decided not to have Ambassador Sondland appear today’ because of an ‘unfair and partisan process that [Chairman Adam] Schiff ran,” Jordan explained. The Democrats were just trying to smear Trump thirteen months before his reelection “based on an anonymous whistleblower with no first-hand knowledge who is biased against the president,” he continued. They should release [Kurt] Volker’s testimony and recognize that there was no quid pro quo.
According to the book, Jordan lied and said Republicans were eagerly awaiting Sondland’s testimony, which they believed would “reinforce exactly what Ambassador Volker told us last week.”
The reality was quite different. They knew Sondland planned to testify as a quid pro quo. And when Jordan was done trying to get the media to talk about the decision, he and his staff “went up the marble spiral staircase, out of the Capitol, and into their waiting cars to speed through town. and stage an intervention with Trump.”
“In addition to quashing Sondland’s testimony, the White House, they had heard through the grapevine, was about to release Cipollone’s dreaded letter aimed at shutting down the entire investigation – the one that GOP lawmakers had been trying to hold back all weekend,” the book continues. “Although the members usually met with Trump in the Oval Office alone, Jordan insisted that Castor accompany them, hoping he could convince the president to allow administration witnesses to come forward.”
The book paints an unflattering portrait of Jordan, who would likely be the chairman of the judiciary if the GOP took over the House. Instead, he is consistently shown to be far more interested in defending Trump than the truth.
The book includes scenes like Jordan going to the White House to read a transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before it was made public, only to receive a partial transcript that excluded more concrete evidence. of a consideration. Trump’s team, say Bade and Demirjian, wanted House Republicans to officially declare their defense of Trump before they knew all the facts.
The book also details when Jordan and GOP staff went through 53 pages of Volker’s WhatsApp messages about the Ukraine scandal. Volker was extremely active in communicating with State Department officials about Trump’s desire to withhold aid until Ukrainian officials opened an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. While there were plenty of damaging exchanges, there were also positives.
“Jordan knew the texts were bad,” the book reads. “But he was relishing a good fight, and he had already identified security in the missives: in one, Sondland had emphatically denied [Bill] Taylor’s suggestion that US taxpayers’ money was being used to help Trump’s re-election efforts, writing, “the president has been perfectly clear, no quid pro quo of any kind.” Jordan knew this was the time he and his team would have to strike again and again to protect the President. After all, that was exactly how he viewed his job.
So while Volker testified behind closed doors, GOP staff picked the most supportive messages and leaked them to ABC and Fox News. (This prompted Schiff’s staff to release a fuller version of the texts to the media showing that there were, in fact, plenty of damning exchanges.)
Still, at the end of the day, Jordan was in good spirits, believing he and the Republicans had won this round over Volker’s posts. But not everyone was convinced, shows the book.
As he was leaving the Capitol, Jordan received a call from Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the No. 3 Republican at the time. She had read the new reports with a fuller account of Volker’s texts – and she suddenly feared that Jordan’s skewed perspective had infected her judgment as a whole.
“’You said Volker’s testimony was good for us!’ she said, demanding an explanation,” according to the book. “‘What’s up with these texts?'”