Republicans rally behind Jordan amid controversy

House Speaker Paul Ryan became the most high-profile Republican in Congress to support embattled Rep. Jim Jordan, amid allegations the Ohio lawmaker turned a blind eye two decades ago toward alleged abuse while he was an assistant coach.

Posted: Jul 12, 2018 8:10 PM
Updated: Jul 12, 2018 8:26 PM

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Rep. Jim Jordan had a "duty to protect" the Ohio State wrestlers who have alleged sexual abuse by the team's doctor.

"Jim Jordan had a duty to protect them," she said in her first comments about the scandal. "They said he failed. They, the people who are accusing, said he failed. Rather than deny and dismiss them, he should fully cooperate with the investigation."

When asked by CNN whether Congress will hold its own investigation, the California Democrat responded, "At some point -- we'll just see how this goes forward."

"He is someone who has always said about everybody, 'Oh, my gosh, look at his record, so and so should have known this, so and so should have known that.' Well, many people say he did know and by his own standard, he should have known."

Pelosi called the allegations "heartbreaking" and "devastating."

"I commend those who've come forward and brought their personal pain into the public so that there can be an investigation, as there should be so that young people who play in sports can be protected."

Democrats have not made a united effort to seize on the allegations against Jordan, an Ohio Republican who's one of the most conservative members of the House and co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus.

Allegations involving sexual misconduct have rocked Capitol Hill in the past year, with multiple members on both sides of the aisle either leaving Congress or announcing their retirement amid controversy.

RELATED: Congress slowly working behind the scenes to reconcile 2 bills on sexual harassment

Weighing in on the matter, Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona reflected on scandals within his own party. "Those were dispelled with quickly and dealt with. And many of them on less information than what we have about Jordan," he told CNN.

Grijalva called on Republican leaders to begin an ethics review. "And whether it offends a part of their caucus or not, it has to be dealt with," he said.

Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan said there were some "serious questions that should be answered" but "I tend not to prejudge these situations until all the facts come out."

Republicans have largely defended Jordan, and the Freedom Caucus voted to officially back him earlier this week. House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke out in defense of Jordan on Wednesday.

"Jim Jordan is a friend of mine," the Wisconsin Republican said at a news conference on Capitol Hill. "We haven't always agreed with each other over the years. But I always have known Jim Jordan to be a man of honesty, and a man of integrity."

Ryan shot down the idea that the House Ethics Committee would investigate Jordan, as has been floated, saying that the Ethics Committee typically investigates things that have happened while members are in Congress, not things that happened decades ago and before they were members.

On Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said Jordan has the "right to have it resolved" but didn't pounce on the scandal surrounding the Ohio congressman.

"I don't know the facts," the Maryland Democrat said. "My position is usually in an allegation, people have the right to have it resolved. He says he denies it, so I think they'll have to make that determination."

Earlier Thursday, Jordan did not specifically answer if he is worried about his political future -- only saying he is focused on doing his job.

"I'm focused on doing our job," Jordan said as he entered the House Judiciary and Oversight committee's hearing with FBI agent Peter Strzok.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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