Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio really wasn’t interested in answering questions about the conversation he had with Donald Trump on Jan. 6. When Fox News’ Bret Baier first asked Tuesday whether he had spoken to Trump that day, Jordan’s mouth started firing off like a Gatling gun.
He had talked to Trump “umpteen times … thousands… countless times … numerous times,” Jordan said before Baier interrupted him.
“No, I mean on Jan. 6, Congressman,” Baier clarified.
“Yes,” Jordan finally said, adding that he couldn’t even recall the many times he’s spoken to Trump.
The next day, Jordan more readily admitted that Jan. 6 call. But asked by Spectrum News reporter Taylor Popielarz whether he spoke with Trump before, during, or after the Capitol attack, Jordan was again overtaken by memory issues.
“I spoke with him that day, after? I think after,” Jordan offered. “I don’t know if I spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don’t know … I don’t know when those conversations happened.” Those are the type of memory issues that can sometimes be cleared up under oath, and this week Jordan became a prime subpoena candidate in the Jan. 6 inquiry.
For starters, GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a key member of the Jan. 6 select committee, told ABC’s Good Morning America Tuesday that “Congressman Jordan may well be a material witness” in the investigation.
“He’s somebody who 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 as he said publicly,” Cheney added.
In the same appearance, Cheney also declined to shoot down an account in a new book about Trump, I Alone Can Fix It, in which Jordan tried to help her on Jan. 6 and she reportedly shot back, “Get away from me, you fucking did this.”
It’s worth remembering that, even though Cheney was ousted from her Republican caucus leadership post in May, at the time of the insurrection and the immediate aftermath, she was not entirely on the outs yet. At that point, the battle lines had yet to be clearly drawn, as Republican leaders briefly flirted with cutting Trump loose. So Cheney, who’s immediate life mission is to make sure everyone who contributed to Jan. 6 is held to account, was privy to a lot of critical information. Insofar as the GOP caucus is concerned, it’s fair to think of her as a somewhat unconventional insider-turned-outsider, and that makes her very dangerous.
Cheney is also fixated on documenting every moment of what happened at the White House on Jan. 6—an effort she emphasized in her opening statement at Tuesday’s first select committee hearing, and then mentioned again during the ABC interview.
“The American people, as I said, deserve to know what happened every minute of that day,” Cheney reiterated. “They deserve to know about every phone call that was made in and out of the White House, every meeting, every discussion that was had that day in the White House as the Capitol building was under attack.”
Jordan may want to start checking his phone logs sooner rather than later. On top of Cheney’s clear-eyed focus, he’s also not going to get any cover from claiming his conversations with Trump were privileged. In other big Jan. 6 news this week, the Justice Department has reportedly informed Trump administration officials that the department does not support an executive privilege exemption from being compelled to testify about Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
As Just Security writes, “This is a significant development that will clear the way for witnesses to provide evidence to the committees investigating post-election conduct, including the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.”
That news preceded the disclosure of notes taken by a top Trump-era Justice Department official, of phone calls in which Trump repeatedly tried to pressure the acting attorney general into claiming the election was marred by fraud. Specifically, in a call on Dec. 27, the official’s notes depict Trump telling then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.”
Though Trump didn’t explicitly name those congressmen, according to the notes, at other points in the conversation he praised Jordan as a “fighter,” mentioned Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and claimed Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin was “getting to the bottom of things,” according to reporting from The New York Times.
The revelation spurred Jordan’s spokesperson to issue a statement saying the congressman “did not, has not, and would not pressure anyone at the Justice Department about the 2020 election.”
It’s a pretty narrow denial. Everyone can apparently breathe easy now, knowing that Jordan didn’t personally call up DOJ officials and harangue them about overturning the 2020 election. Because, frankly, only Trump would be brazenly stupid enough to do that.
On Jan. 11, just five days after the insurrection, Trump awarded Jordan with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in a private ceremony. At the time, Trump was holed up at the White House and hadn’t made a public appearance since the fiery insurrection-day speech in which he had directed thousands of attendees to march down to the Capitol and “fight like hell.”
At the time Trump, who was seemingly running out of options to retain the presidency, was in the midst of rewarding his staunchest loyalists with everything from symbolic sycophancy awards to some pretty consequential pardons.
Jordan, who must have felt pretty smug about his achievement, is about to find out that medal isn’t worth a hill of beans legally. And while Jordan’s level of participation in the planning of Jan. 6 remains unclear, the effort to uncover the extent of his collusion with Trump is going to prove pretty uncomfortable. Liz Cheney is going to see to that.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.