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Trump pays Jim Jordan the wrong kind of partisan compliment

Donald Trump sees Republicans like Jim Jordan as "great" employees, doing his bidding on the Capitol Hill.


As a rule, Republicans have spent the last half-century avoiding comparisons to Richard Nixon. That’s understandable: The late former president resigned in disgrace after having been caught up in a series of indefensible scandals. Few GOP officials and candidates have wanted to be associated with Nixon or his legacy.

Donald Trump, however, is quite comfortable with Nixon comparisons.

Last month, for example, the former president talked about his relationship with Nixon and his family, telling The Washington Examiner that Nixon’s “biggest regret” was stepping down during the Watergate impeachment crisis. “He should have fought,” Trump said.

The Republican added, “His biggest mistake was that he didn’t fight back when Barry Goldwater and a group of senators and congressmen came to him on that very dark and dreary evening in the White House and said, ‘Mr. President, you have no votes. You’ve got to resign immediately.’ He resigned. It was the regret of his life that he didn’t fight back — and very much unlike the man I knew.”

In other words, as Trump described it, Nixon was guilty; he knew he was guilty; his public support had collapsed; and Congress was poised to throw him out of office. Trump believes quitting was nevertheless the wrong call, and based on private conversations that may or may not have occurred, Trump would have the public believe that Nixon himself regretted his decision.

Last night, as The Hill reported, the former president went a little further.

Former President Trump on Sunday compared himself to former President Nixon, touting the support he has in Congress and within his own party as he weathered impeachment proceedings and now faces ongoing legal battles.

In an interview with Mark Levin, which aired on Fox News last night, Trump said, “I’ll never forget: When [impeachment] happened, we had such great support. Nixon had no support. You know, he just didn’t have support. He was very, very tough with people. I get along with people. I mean, I have great Jim Jordan and all these congressmen are great. They’re really incredible people.”

He added, “Nixon didn’t get along with the people in Congress. He didn’t get along with the senators. But the fact is, we have some great people in the Republican Party, but I get along with them, and they stuck together.”

In terms of historical analysis, much of this was odd. Trump seems to believe that Nixon lost GOP support, not because Congress was confronted with overwhelming evidence of systemic abuses and a corrupted White House, but because Nixon had strained personal relationships with congressional Republicans. GOP lawmakers didn’t get along with Nixon, Trump's theory goes, so they abandoned him as Watergate reached its boiling point. Trump, in contrast, maintained partisan support because of his charm and personality.

None of this reflects reality in any meaningful way.

But let’s not brush past the five words that stood out most for me from Trump’s interview: “I have great Jim Jordan.”

In other words, unlike Nixon, who had to deal with some principled GOP lawmakers, Trump benefited from knee-jerk support from Jordan and his cohorts, who appeared — and continue to appear — indifferent to the former president’s culpability.

Last night’s comments were intended as a compliment, but given the circumstances, they shouldn’t be seen as one. Trump effectively pointed to the House Judiciary Committee chairman as a mindless ally who’ll stand by the former president without regard for propriety.

Indeed, the Fox interview came a week after a New York Times report on the Ohio congressman, noting that Jordan is “using his perch on the judiciary panel to defend his most important political patron, Mr. Trump, and to attack his adversaries.” The article added, “Mr. Jordan has also acknowledged there is another goal at work, telling a conservative audience last year the investigations would ‘help frame up the 2024 race’ in a way that benefits Mr. Trump.”

Trump tends to see Republicans like Jordan as loyal employees, doing his bidding on the Hill — a benefit Nixon did not enjoy 50 years ago. It’s praise the Judiciary Committee chairman is likely to embrace, though he should find it embarrassing.