For everyone who watched House impeachment for 2019 from Donald Trump On stopping military aid to Ukraine, it may not be surprising Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) was not a completely unbiased investigator.
But a new book on Trump’s impeachment trial details how Jordan framed the Ukraine scandal as nothing — even when he knew there was more hurtful information yet to be revealed — and defended Trump’s stalling tactics, even as he disagreed and tried to persuade President in cooperation.
in “unspecified”, Politico Rachel Budd and Washington PostUS President Karon Demirjian explains how Jordan worked his way into Trump’s inner circle, becoming a key advocate for the president, misleading the media with strategic leaks, and defending Trump’s decisions by blocking key testimony.
Jordan employees did not respond to a request for comment.
In October 2019, Jordan learned that Trump was considering a bombastic letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone refusing to hand over documents and withholding testimony from some administration officials, according to exclusive excerpts from the book obtained by The Daily Beast. But on the morning the House of Representatives impeachment committee was scheduled to interview the US ambassador to the European Union, Jordan Sondland, and the Trump administration. Preventing the emergence of Sondland. And Jordan was just as surprised as everyone else.
When Jordan entered SCIF with [Steve] Castor and [Mark] Meadows on Tuesday, October 8, the morning of Sondland’s scheduled briefing, were shocked to discover that the ambassador was not there. Just before 7 a.m., Cipollone—on Trump’s orders—ordered State Department officials to stop the interview from moving forward. However, no one bothered to deliver an alert to Trump’s top defenders on Capitol Hill. And Jordan and Castor were not happy,” says an excerpt from the book.
Jordan and Castor, the GOP’s chief counsel in Trump’s first impeachment trial, knew Sondland’s testimony would be persuasive, and that he planned to say the president had already engaged in a quid pro quo. But their plan was to try to catch Sondland in a lie – and then argue that none of his testimony should be trusted because he had theoretically lied to himself.
The book reads: “It was a brazen strategy that once again showed how House Republicans were more interested in finding ways to protect their party leader than in finding out what really happened.” But Sondland’s lack of attendance robbed them of the opportunity to test the new rules of the game.
When Jordan walked out of the Supreme Council for International Media, journalists rallied, demanding to know why the administration was blocking Sondland’s testimony. Though upset, Jordan swallowed his frustration and wholeheartedly defended the White House move as justified,” the book continues. “The administration decided that Ambassador Sondland would not appear today” due to an “unfair and partisan process.” [Chairman Adam] Jordan argued that Schiff was running. He added that Democrats were only trying to discredit Trump thirteen months before his re-election “based on an anonymous whistleblower without first-hand knowledge of who has bias against the president.” They should be released [Kurt] Volcker’s testimony and his acknowledgment that there was no quid pro quo.
According to the book, Jordan lied and said Republicans were looking forward to Sondland’s testimony, and that they believed it “will reinforce exactly what Ambassador Volcker told us last week.”
The reality was completely different. They knew that Sondland was planning to testify for a swap. When Jordan finished trying to brief the media on the decision, he and his staff “up the marble spiral staircase, from the Capitol, to their waiting cars to speed through town and intervene with Trump.”
“On top of rescinding Sondland’s testimony, the White House, heard through the grapevine, was on the verge of releasing Cipollone’s chilling speech aimed at shutting down the entire investigation—only Republican lawmakers were trying to back off all weekend,” the book continues. Although members usually meet with Trump in the Oval Office alone, Jordan insisted that Castor accompany them, hoping he could persuade the president to allow administration witnesses to come forward.
The book presents a less satisfactory picture of Jordan, who would likely be the head of the judiciary if the GOP takes back the House. Instead, he is constantly showing more interest in defending Trump than in the truth.
The book includes scenes such as Jordan heading to the White House to read the transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before it is released to the public, only to receive a partial account that has ruled out more concrete evidence of a quid pro quo. Bade and Demirjian say the Trump team wanted House Republicans to sign up for Trump’s defense before they knew all the facts.
The book also details the time Jordan and GOP staffers reviewed 53 pages of Volcker’s WhatsApp messages about the Ukraine scandal. Volcker was so active in communicating with State Department officials about Trump’s desire to withhold aid that Ukrainian officials opened an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter. While there were a lot of harmful exchanges, there were also some bright spots.
The book reads, “Jordan knew the scripts were bad.” But he enjoyed a good fight, and had already set a failsafe in the letters: in one of them, Sondland emphatically refuted [Bill] Taylor suggested that US tax dollars were being used to aid Trump’s reelection efforts, writing: “The president has been very clear that there is no bartering of any kind.” Jordan knew that this was the point where he and his team would have to hit the house over and over to protect the boss. This, after all, was exactly how he viewed his job.”
So, while Volcker was testifying behind closed doors, GOP staffers picked out the most exculpatory letters and leaked them to ABC and Fox News. (This prompted Schiff’s staff to release to the media a full transcript of transcripts showing that there had, in fact, been a lot of scathing exchanges.)
However, in the end, Jordan was in good spirits, thinking that he and the Republicans had won that round over Volcker’s letters. The book shows that not everyone is convinced.
As he walked out of the Capitol, Jordan received a call from Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wisconsin), the 3rd Republican in the House of Representatives at the time. I read the new reports with a more complete account of Volcker’s texts – and suddenly I was concerned that Jordan’s biased perspective had infected his judgment in general.
“You said Volcker’s testimony was good for us!” “According to the book,” she said, she demands an explanation. “What is wrong with these texts?”