Pelosi: Jordan’s push to impeach Rosenstein an effort to distract from OSU wrestling scandal

Pelosi: Jordan’s push to impeach Rosenstein an effort to distract from OSU wrestling scandal
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDonald Trump proved himself by winning fight for border security Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress The national emergency will haunt Republicans come election season MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday suggested the conservative push to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Warren: Officials have duty ‘to invoke 25th amendment’ if they think Trump is unfit McCabe: Trump 'may have' committed a crime in blocking Russia probe MORE was launched, at least in part, to divert attention from 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’s (R-Ohio) entanglements in the sexual abuse investigation swirling around Ohio State University's (OSU) wrestling program.

Jordan, a conservative firebrand who helped introduce the impeachment articles against Rosenstein on Wednesday, was an assistant coach for OSU’s wrestling team decades ago, when a now-deceased medical doctor is accused of sexually abusing scores of athletes across a spectrum of sports.

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 A number of the accusers have said Jordan knew of the abuse and did nothing to stop it — a charge the six-term lawmaker vehemently denies.

Pelosi on Thursday floated the idea that the Rosenstein impeachment effort is related to OSU’s ongoing investigation into the scandal — and Jordan’s association with it.

“I don’t know, but what I’ve heard is Jim Jordan wants to take attention away from the scrutiny that he is under in Ohio,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol when asked what she thought was fueling the impeachment push. 

“That could be part of it.” 

Pelosi’s comments came moments before The Daily Caller broke the news that Jordan will seek to replace outgoing 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.) next year — a clear indication that Jordan, a co-founder of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, is confident the allegations against him won’t be a weight on his political aspirations.

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

Introduced Wednesday night, the articles of impeachment targeting Rosenstein came after months of attacks on the Department of Justice (DOJ) from President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE and his most ardent supporters on Capitol Hill.

The critics contend that the DOJ’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election is a politically motivated “witch hunt” designed solely to harm Trump and delegitimize his presidential victory.

Rosenstein, who was appointed by Trump, is overseeing the probe after Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports McCabe: Trump's 'relentless attack' on FBI prompted memoir Trump: 'Disgraced' McCabe, Rosenstein look like they were planning 'very illegal act' MORE recused himself from Russia-related investigations last year. Rosenstein subsequently appointed special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE to conduct the investigation.

The impeachment articles — introduced by Jordan, 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 nine other conservative Republicans — contend Rosenstein has conflicts of interest in the Mueller probe since he endorsed a special court order allowing the wiretapping of Carter Page, a former adviser to Trump’s campaign. 

The conservatives are also accusing the Justice Department of withholding vital documents from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“The DOJ is keeping information from Congress. Enough is enough,” Jordan said Wednesday in a statement. “It’s time to hold Mr. Rosenstein accountable for blocking Congress’s constitutional oversight role.” 

Many Republicans, however, are opposing the impeachment push. And Ryan on Thursday pushed back against the conservatives leading it.

”I don't think we should be cavalier with this process or this term [impeachment]," he said. "I don't think this rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors." 

Other GOP leaders, however, have their sights on climbing the leadership ladder and are jumping on board the impeachment effort — an issue that’s dividing Republicans just as the House is heading into the long August recess, when the party is hoping to maintain a unified front against the Democrats ahead of the November midterm elections.

Pelosi, for her part, said the impeachment articles are part of a broader Republican effort to defend Trump at all costs, even if it means tearing down public trust in the country’s law enforcement community. 

“Truth and fact and data and evidence have never been something that the Republicans have sought or base their decisionmaking on. So they would want to hurt Rosenstein so that they could hurt the Mueller investigation,” she said.

“What they’re making is a statement [that] President Trump is above the law — period,” she added. "It’s a sad thing.” 

Pelosi all but invited the Republicans to bring the impeachment articles to the floor, saying such a vote would be political gold for the Democrats.

“Hopefully saner minds will prevail on the Republican side, and they won’t bring this up. If they did, we welcome their voting on undermining our democracy,” Pelosi said.

“If they bring it up, they have a price to pay for going that route.”