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Scalise 'confident' that Jordan 'would stand up for his athletes'

Scalise 'confident' that Jordan 'would stand up for his athletes'
© Greg Nash

The No. 3 Republican in the House on Monday defended Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanCheney, top GOP lawmakers ask Trump campaign for proof of election fraud New RSC chairman sees 'Trumpism' as future Sunday shows preview: Biden team gears up for transition, Trump legal battles continue and pandemic rages on MORE (R-Ohio), who is facing accusations that he turned a blind eye to alleged sexual abuse on the Ohio State University wrestling team back when he was a coach.

Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTop Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' New RSC chairman sees 'Trumpism' as future MORE (R-La.) said he was "confident" that Jordan, a conservative attack dog who has called out leaders in both parties, would stand up for his athletes.

Jordan, a former chairman of the powerful House Freedom Caucus, has adamantly denied that he knew anything about the alleged abuse of students.

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“I have always known Jim Jordan to be honest, and I’m confident he would stand up for his athletes, just like he’s always stood up for what’s right,” Scalise said in a statement. “I'm glad that Jim is committed to working with the investigators to see that the full truth comes out and justice is served.”

The remarks from Scalise mark a far stronger defense than Jordan got from Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan calls for Trump to accept results: 'The election is over' Bottom line Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition MORE (R-Wis.), who called the accusations “serious” and said Ohio State’s internal, independent investigation needs to play out.

Standing by Jordan could help boost Scalise's potential bid to succeed Ryan as Speaker, in which support from the Freedom Caucus will be crucial.

While Scalise has made clear he would not run to replace Ryan, he will be waiting in the wings should Ryan’s top deputy, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDemocrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? Top Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' MORE (R-Calif.), fall short of securing 218 votes for the gavel.

McCarthy’s office did not respond to a request for comment about Jordan.

The allegations against Jordan come as he was considering a bid for Speaker himself, though it was largely seen as a strategic move to extract more concessions from the next Speaker in exchange for Freedom Caucus support.

Scalise, a rising political star in the GOP, faced his own negative headlines a few years ago when it surfaced that he gave a speech to a white supremacist group in 2002. GOP leaders and other allies, including Rep. Cedric RichmondCedric Levon RichmondClyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Biden: 'Difficult decision' to staff administration with House, Senate members Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet MORE (D-La.), who is African-American, rushed to Scalise’s defense and helped him survive the political crisis.

Similarly, Jordan’s allies have rallied to his defense after seven former Buckeye wrestlers publicly stated that Jordan knew or must have known about the sexual abuse of Ohio State athletes while he was an assistant wrestling coach there from 1987 to 1995.

Several Freedom Caucus members put out separate statements in support of Jordan on Monday, while six former Buckeye coaches issued a joint statement defending Jordan and saying they would have “spoken up” had athletes reported specific cases of sexual abuse to them.

“What has been said about Jim Jordan is absolutely wrong. We all worked on the wrestling coaching staff during Jim’s tenure at The Ohio State University. None of us saw or heard of abuse of OSU wrestlers,” the half-dozen coaches said in a joint statement. “The well-being of student-athletes was all of our concern. If we had heard of any abuse, we would have spoken up.”