Jim Jordan wields the gavel — and new power

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the pugnacious lawmaker who has been one of former President Trump’s top defenders, has long had a microphone. But now, Jordan has something he’s long sought: a gavel.

Once a thorn in the side of House GOP leaders, Jordan has been elevated to be a top attack dog against Democrats. With the new power to not only direct congressional hearings but utilize subpoenas, Jordan will be both a standard-bearer for the GOP base and a sculptor of the Washington political landscape for the next two years.

In Jordan’s debut hearing as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, the first in a series planned on examining border and migration policies, he made clear that his fiery style is sticking around as his power increases. 

He accused the Biden administration of intentionally not having “operational control” of the border. 

“Month after month after month, we have set records for migrants coming into the country. … It seems deliberate. It seems premeditated. It seems intentional,” Jordan said.

The comment lays the groundwork for potential impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a process Jordan would oversee.

Jordan’s fast-talking, confrontational style is exactly what House GOP members like to see from him — and what sets off alarm bells for Democrats.

“Jordan has many talents, and one of them is that he can speak extremely rapidly. So I tell members, the key thing is to take notes on what he’s saying so you don’t forget about some drive-by fallacies or mischaracterizations that you might forget about by the end of the statement,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the Judiciary Committee and ranking member on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.

“I always feel like there is a real three-dimensional human being struggling to get out behind the rapid-fire, right-wing polemicist that we see on stage. But everybody thinks I’m an optimist,” Raskin said.

GOP members, on the other hand, praised Jordan for how he has led Republicans on the panel. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that Jordan is “very good at not monopolizing time” and ensures that other members have time to talk. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) praised Jordan for elevating members based on their talents rather than by seniority.

“If you’ve got a band, there’s some people who won’t hire a guitarist who’s better than them or a drummer who’s better than them, and so the band suffers. Jim Jordan is the opposite of that,” Massie said.

But Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), who has clashed with Jordan on antitrust issues, was more terse. “He’s going to get some feedback instead of giving feedback all the time,” he said of Jordan holding the gavel.

In addition to taking a look at policies on the border, major topics for Jordan-led investigations by the Judiciary panel will include GOP allegations of political bias at the Department of Justice and FBI as well as in big tech and social media.

Jordan’s overall popularity in the House GOP was on display during Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) battle to win the Speakership. Some of the 20 members who forced McCarthy into a drawn-out floor fight nominated and voted for Jordan instead.

Jordan, a founder of the confrontational House Freedom Caucus, had challenged McCarthy to lead House Republicans in 2018. 

But Jordan supported McCarthy for Speaker, saying that his priority was to oversee investigations. After the 2018 challenge, Jordan was elevated to be ranking member on the Oversight panel and then switched over to be ranking member of the Judiciary panel.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of the members who voted for Jordan to be Speaker, said Jordan is “our hardest-working, most talented number.”

Jordan is also heading up a new GOP select subcommittee formed with the goal of investigating the “weaponization” of the federal government, which is expected to probe deeper into alleged political bias in the Department of Justice and FBI, including its role in investigating former President Trump.

It’s a role that will leave the fiery Jordan front and center in representing the GOP, this time imbued with subpoena power as he works to arm-wrestle Biden administration agencies previously under little obligation to comply with minority oversight.

Much of the work of the weaponization subcommittee can pick up where Jordan and the larger Judiciary Committee left off.

Last year, he sent more than 100 letters to the FBI and Justice Department ahead of his own expected probes of the two agencies.

“The gavel changes a lot. His questions are now going to be answered where he has sent out hundreds of letters … that have been ignored for as much as four years between two committees,” Issa said.

The weaponization subcommittee was established with some unique powers, including the power to oversee “ongoing criminal investigations.” 

That allows the 15 lawmakers on the panel to have access to the same information shared with the House Intelligence Committee, which receives some of the most closely guarded information the intelligence community shares with members of Congress. 

Democrats fear the panel could be used to interfere with multiple ongoing probes, including into former President Trump for his role in the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, riot as well as the mishandling of classified records at his Florida home.

“Jim Jordan and Kevin McCarthy claim to be investigating the weaponization of the federal government when, in fact, this new select committee is the weapon itself,” Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said.

Tags Donald Trump Jim Jordan Ken Buck

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