Republicans consider putting Jordan, Meadows on Intelligence for impeachment

Top House Republicans are considering temporarily placing two of President Trump’s most ardent allies on the House Intelligence Committee, a move that would shore up Trump’s defense on a key panel that will take a leading role in questioning witnesses during the public phase of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. 

The two Republicans — Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and Oversight member Mark Meadows (N.C.) — would be added as Democrats seek to bring in witnesses who they believe can deliver the most damning testimony about President Trump’s contacts with Ukraine, according to two GOP sources familiar with the deliberations.

{mosads}The resolution Democrats recently passed laying out how they plan to conduct the public phase of the impeachment inquiry says members of the Intelligence Committee will be able to ask witnesses questions while those on the other two committees involved in impeachment — Oversight and Foreign Affairs — will not be allowed to do so.

By moving Jordan and Meadows, both senior members of the House Freedom Caucus, Republicans will be able to get around this procedure. And both are viewed as being highly invested in the president’s defense. 

They frequently attend the closed-door depositions that Democrats have held over the past five or so weeks — even during a House recess week. And when they emerge, they have sought to undermine negative testimony from witnesses or tout testimony that they view as favorable in defending Trump against the claims that he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open politically advantageous investigations. 

The irregular move — one produced by the irregular circumstances of an impeachment inquiry — would put two of Trump’s most vocal defenders in position to go head-to-head in televised hearings with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and other Democrats who have claimed that Trump used nearly $400 million in financial aid as leverage to get Zelensky to commit to investigating interference in the 2016 election as well as former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the president’s top 2020 political rivals.

The decision over whether to move Jordan or Meadows onto the panel is largely in the hands of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who controls which GOP members sit on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Doing so, however, would also mean that two other Republicans would be bumped.

While one source said they do not know who leadership is considering replacing, the source said they believe it will be members who are less invested throwing punches in what has become a highly partisan battle.

Some Republicans believe the two members would be assets to have on the panel for the public hearing, while others privately said it is a sign Republicans are scrambling to bolster their Trump defense team.

While talk of the reassignment remains active, one senior GOP aide said nothing has officially been decided.

McCarthy said if the Intelligence Committee continues to be the panel leading impeachment proceedings, he will make the changes he feels are necessary. 

“If Democrats are going to turn Intel into the impeachment committee, I am going to make adjustments to that committee accordingly, for a short period of time,” he told Politico.

Jordan said he is open to the move should McCarthy and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, decide on it.

“That’s a Kevin, Leader McCarthy’s call. If Kevin and Ranking Member Nunes want that to happen and that helps — I just want to help our team,” Jordan said during an appearance on Fox and Friends.

“I want to help the country see the truth here that President Trump didn’t do anything wrong and what the Democrats are doing is partisan, it’s unfair and frankly, it’s ridiculous, particularly the way they’ve went about with these secret meetings in the bunker in the basement of the Capitol,” the Ohio Republican continued.

Meadows, when asked if he is interested in joining the Intelligence Committee, replied: “I think it would be inappropriate of me to comment on that. We have a good team of folks on Intel, I’m sure they will do a good job.”

But when asked about the possibility of moving some of the president’s loudest allies to the committee, he indicated that some have shown they are invested in how the impeachment inquiry unfolds day by day.

“Obviously, there have been a few of us that have been more involved in that. But everything has a season and so I look forward to providing a supporting role to my Republican colleagues as they move forward with the public testimony side of things,” he continued. “I can tell you having been in almost every single hour of the depositions, I’m more convinced than ever that my Republican colleagues will be able to see the truth in all of this and the lack of merit some of my Democratic colleagues have been making for many many weeks.”

Tags Adam Schiff Devin Nunes Donald Trump Impeachment Jim Jordan Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Mark Meadows
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