McCarthy defends Jordan amid Ohio State abuse scandal

McCarthy defends Jordan amid Ohio State abuse scandal
© Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCongress allows Violence Against Women Act to lapse Mandatory E-Verify: The other border wall Bret Stephens: Would love to see Hannity react when Dem declares climate change emergency MORE (R-Calif.) is defending embattled Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanWhite House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration Rod Rosenstein’s final insult to Congress: Farewell time for reporters but not testimony House conservatives blast border deal, push Trump to use executive power MORE (R-Ohio) from allegations that he failed to stop a team doctor from sexually abusing Ohio State University (OSU) athletes when Jordan was a wrestling coach there decades ago.

McCarthy, the No. 2 House Republican, is the highest-ranking lawmaker to publicly stand by Jordan. His support comes a day after Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Texas man with politician hit list, illegally 3D printed rifle sentenced to eight years The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Will there be any last-minute shutdown drama? MORE (R-La.) issued a statement similarly backing the conservative lawmaker.

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“Jim and I came into Congress together 12 years ago and I have always found him to be a good and honest man. I believe Jim when he says if faced with charges of abuse, he absolutely would have acted,” McCarthy said in a statement Tuesday.

“Everyone should be afforded due process in this very serious matter and I am glad there is an investigation underway of the despicable behavior by the Ohio State University doctor.”

McCarthy’s statement of support mirrors that of Scalise, who said he was “confident” that Jordan “would stand up for his athletes, just like he’s always stood up for what’s right.”

The remarks from McCarthy and Scalise on behalf of Jordan are significant considering the political dynamic among the three men.

While Jordan had been flirting with a bid for Speaker, McCarthy — the heir apparent to retiring Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUnscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration MORE (R-Wis.) — would need backing from Jordan and his 30-member ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus to secure the top leadership post.

Scalise, currently the No. 3 House Republican, would also need support from Jordan's conservative bloc should he pursue a leadership bid in lieu of McCarthy.

Dozens of former Ohio State athletes have accused Dr. Richard Strauss of sexually abusing and assaulting them in the 1980s and '90s.

Of those athletes, roughly a half dozen former OSU wrestlers have gone on the record to say that Jordan knew about the alleged abuse by Strauss but did nothing to stop it while he was an assistant wrestling coach at the college from 1987 to 1995.

Jordan, now 54, has denied knowing about any abuse of his wrestlers but has said there was unspecified “locker-room talk” about the doctor, who killed himself in 2005.

McCarthy and Scalise’s statements follow similar comments by at least eight other GOP lawmakers who are standing by Jordan, lawmakers who formerly chaired both the conservative Republican Study Committee and far-right Freedom Caucus.

Supporters include Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Winners and losers in the border security deal GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration MORE (R-N.C.) and Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryHouse Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 House passes bill expressing support for NATO McCarthy, allies retaliate against Freedom Caucus leader MORE (R-Pa.) and Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzHouse passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency Parkland parents create anti-gun violence Valentine’s Day candies: ‘Don’t shoot,’ ‘he’s gone’ House conservatives blast border deal, push Trump to use executive power MORE (R-Fla.).

Six former OSU wrestling coaches on Monday issued statements defending Jordan. And on Tuesday, the public relations (PR) firm Jordan hired to help fight back against the allegations compiled a list of 14 former OSU wrestlers who have gone on the record defending their former coach. 

The PR firm, Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, also launched a website Tuesday defending Jordan: standwithjimjordan.com.

Jordan returned to Washington on Tuesday after the weeklong July Fourth recess, but spent most of the day hunkered down in his office as a few TV camera crews waited in the Rayburn Building hallway for him to emerge.

But he tweeted a short message: “Thank you to the former wrestlers who came out to support me today.”