In the months following the Jan. 6 attack, Rep. Jim Jordan seemed wholly unconcerned about scrutiny. In fact, the Ohio Republican suggested publicly that he’d be the model of transparency.
“If they call me, I got nothing to hide,” the far-right lawmaker said last summer. A few months later, during a House Rules Committee hearing, the Ohioan echoed the sentiment, insisting, “I’ve said all along, I have nothing to hide.”
It was against this backdrop that the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol reached out to Jordan, shortly before Christmas, seeking his voluntary cooperation. The congressman announced soon after that he’d refuse to answer investigators’ questions.
And so, two weeks ago, the bipartisan panel took matters to the next level and subpoenaed the Ohioan. Yesterday, in a letter spanning nearly six pages, Jordan responded to the committee. The Hill reported:
Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), one of five Republican members subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, is asking the panel to turn over the bulk of the information it has collected on him as he weighs how to respond to the compulsory request for his testimony.
The GOP congressman’s letter did not give the impression of eager cooperation. For example, Jordan questioned the “constitutionality and validity” of the subpoena. (Following a series of federal court rulings, the legal legitimacy of the committee and its investigation is not in doubt.)
He also presented the panel with demands he expected investigators to meet before he agreed to engage with them. An Axios report added, Jordan expressed several expectations about what the committee should provide him with, “including giving him the materials it plans to question him with ahead of time, along with all the documents the committee has that reference him.”
I’m starting to think Mr. Nothing To Hide is reluctant to answer questions.
Looking ahead, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, those subpoenaed in federal investigations generally don’t respond with a series of demands. A Washington Post report recently explained, “Subpoenas are legally binding requests to testify; violating them can carry a fine or jail time.”
Witnesses are not supposed to respond to subpoenas by effectively saying, “Meet my demands first, and then I’ll think about it.”
Second, it’s unlikely that the committee will satisfy Jordan’s requests, at which point he’ll probably refuse to honor the subpoena. Don’t be surprised if the panel responds by seeking a contempt vote against him.
And third, the relevance of this line of inquiry should not be in doubt. This is an investigation of great importance, and Jordan has a unique perspective that could advance the larger search for truth. As regular readers may recall, The New York Times reported several months ago, for example, that the Ohio lawmaker attended crisis meetings at Trump campaign headquarters as early as Nov. 9, just two days after Joe Biden became president-elect.
The Times also reported that the far-right congressman participated in a meeting at the White House in late December 2020, at which he plotted with Donald Trump on how best to challenge the results of the election.
Soon after, on Jan. 5, Jordan forwarded a message to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, describing a scheme in which then-Vice President Mike Pence could help reject election results Republicans didn’t like.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the Republican co-chair of the bipartisan panel, insisted months ago that Jordan’s perspective is of critical significance precisely because he was “involved in a number of meetings in the lead-up to what happened on Jan. 6, involved in planning for Jan. 6, certainly for the objections that day.”
And yet, after insisting he had “nothing to hide,” Jordan seems wholly uninterested in answering investigators’ questions. I wonder why that is.