Gaetz goes to bat with Trump on Jordan
© Greg Nash

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzRep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump Rep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump Democrats begin Mueller hearings with Watergate-era witness MORE (R-Fla.) said he has encouraged President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE to press top House Republicans to pick Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanRep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump Rep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump House panel advances bill to create cybersecurity standards for government IT devices MORE (R-Ohio), a former House Freedom Caucus chairman, as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. 

“I asked the president to weigh in for the sake of the Judiciary Committee and to encourage the leader to ensure that Jim Jordan is the ranking member,” Gaetz, who like Jordan has frequently criticized special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, told The Hill on Thursday. 

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Jordan appears to face an uphill climb to win the Judiciary position despite intervention from Trump, who reportedly called House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe case for congressional pay raises McConnell defends Trump amid backlash: 'He gets picked at every day' McConnell defends Trump amid backlash: 'He gets picked at every day' MORE (R-Calif.) to press him to work out a deal with Jordan that would allow him to be ranking member of Judiciary. That committee would handle impeachment proceedings if articles against the president are filed.

Reps. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsTensions between Democrats, Justice cool for a day Tensions between Democrats, Justice cool for a day Nadler reaches deal with Justice on Mueller documents on eve of contempt vote MORE (R-Ga.), the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, and Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotBipartisan House bill seeks to punish Burma for genocide Bipartisan House bill seeks to punish Burma for genocide 58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill MORE (R-Ohio) have both announced their bids for the top GOP spot on the panel. 

And Jordan won just 43 votes to McCarthy’s 159 in the race for minority leader on Wednesday. Jordan has rubbed a number of GOP lawmakers the wrong way as the Freedom Caucus has used its muscle to move legislation to the right.

“There would be a lot of people who would have conversations with Leader McCarthy if Jordan was rewarded with a ranking member spot due to pressure from the president and our leadership team to try to steer the Steering Committee,” one McCarthy ally told The Hill this week.

Even some conservatives are skeptical that the president's input could lead to Jordan winning the post.
 
"I think that's still a very wide open race right now - I think odds on favorite right now are on Doug Collins," one Jordan ally told The Hill Thursday.  

Gaetz argued that Republicans would be fielding their “best team if Jim Jordan was the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.”

Jordan hasn’t said whether he will officially run for the position. 

“I'm always interested in, you know, how we can best do the right kind of investigations and defend the truth as I said before,” he told reporters Wednesday. “So, I just think we have to wait and see.”

Jordan would be in line to be ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR), but Gaetz said he’d be a better fit on Judiciary given the possibility of impeachment.

“I mean look — OGR is the subpoena cannon committee according to the Democrats, but the Judiciary Committee is going to be covered like the O.J. [Simpson] trial,” he said. 

Gaetz said while he believes Collins or Chabot would have made “phenomenal chairman,” he said they don't bring the level of expertise needed for the role of ranking member on the panel. 

“Neither of them are up on the facts regarding the Russia investigation and our oversight of the FBI and neither of them are prepared to be the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee,” he said.