WASHINGTON — Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio's 4th congressional district and CNN journalist Jake Tapper got into a heated debate Sunday over the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Jordan, an Urbana native whose district represents Elyria and other portions of Northeast Ohio, was appearing as a guest on Tapper's weekly political show State of the Union. The discussion immediately moved to the inquiry, which Jordan characterized as an "attack" by Democrats who "are bound and determined to go after this president."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the launch of the impeachment proceedings this past week following allegations by a whistleblower that Trump had pressured Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter for possible corruption. A summary of that phone call released by the White House confirms Trump asked Zelensky to do him a "favor" and investigate the Bidens, which critics call a blatant attempt by Trump to use a foreign government to influence the 2020 presidential election.
During his discussion with Tapper, Jordan—one of President Trump's biggest defenders in Congress—attempted to paint the still-unknown whistleblower as politically biased against Trump as well as not credible because they had no firsthand knowledge of the conversation between Trump and Zelensky. Tapper then referred Jordan to a letter from Inspector General Michael Atkinson (a Trump appointee) stating that the whistleblower's perceived bias had no effect on their credibility, along with the fact that firsthand knowledge of a situation is not a requirement for a whistleblower complaint.
"According to the Acting Director of National Intelligence, the transcript is in alignment with the whistleblower complaint," Tapper added firmly. "We all see it. We all see...Zelensky wants military aid and President Trump asks him to look into the Bidens. I can't believe that that's okay with you."
The questions surrounding Joe Biden, the current frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, stem from Hunter's position on the board of directors of a Ukranian oil and gas company during his father's time as vice president. It was during this period that Vice President Biden, with the support of virtually all western governments, urged Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor Viktor Shokin amid allegations of blocking corruption investigations in the country.
President Trump and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani claim Biden fought for Shokin's ouster to protect Hunter for prosecution. There is no evidence either of the Bidens committed any wrongdoing or that Hunter was even under investigation, but Jordan repeated these unsubstantiated claims Sunday.
"The vice president's son gets paid $50,000 a month and gets hired by an industry he has no experience in, and that's fine?" he asked. "Try taking that message to the American people."
Tapper (clearly annoyed) shot back, stating that the standards Jordan was setting for Biden and his son "[are] not being met right now" by President Trump and his own children.
"The president's daughter right now is having all sorts of copyrights granted in foreign countries. That doesn't alarm you," Tapper proclaimed. "The president's sons are doing all sorts of business all over the world...Either there's a principal that people should not benefit from their connections or their isn't."
The testiest moment of the exchange came when Tapper made reference to separate accusations against Jordan himself, namely that he knew about and ignored several allegations of sexual assault of student athletes while an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State in the 1980s and '90s.
"I would think that somebody who's been accused of things in the last year or two would be more sensitive about throwing out wild allegations about people," Tapper said.
Jordan did not respond directly to Tapper's remark, and so far no wrongdoing has been proven on his part in regards to the scandal. The man responsible for the sexual crimes, Dr. Richard Strauss, died by suicide in 2005 and has since been implicated in molesting more than 300 people while at OSU.
Jordan is the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, one of several congressional bodies that are expected to play a role in the impeachment inquiry. Following Pelosi's announcement of said inquiry, Jordan accused her and Democrats of trying to undo "the 2016 election and the will of the American people."
So far nearly all House Democrats (including all Ohioans), one independent, and no Republicans have formally backed impeachment proceedings against the president. However, several members of the GOP have expressed their concerns about Trump's conduct, including Rep. Mike Turner from Dayton.
"This is not okay," Turner said of the phone call with Zelensky. "I think it's disappointing to the American public when they read the transcript."
Recent polls have shown more Americans than not support the impeachment inquiry. Only two presidents—Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton—have been impeached in the entire history of the United States, and neither was eventually removed from office.