The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Jim Jordan reveals just how nutty Republicans have become

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein testifies on Capitol Hill on June 13, 2017. (Alex Brandon/AP)

President Trump is not the only unhinged Republican who spins conspiracy theories and denigrates the rule of law. Watching Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) rudely (civility police, where are you?) and hysterically attack Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, accusing him without proof of threatening staffers — and insisting that Congress, an appendage of Trump at this point, get classified documents from an ongoing investigation — recalls the moment when the Army’s chief counsel, Joseph Welch, responded to the vicious smear launched by Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.) at a witness during the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings:

In the case of Jordan, it was Rosenstein himself who was forced to respond, again and again, to baseless accusations and inaccuracies. The Post records the exchange:

At the hearing, Jordan peppered Rosenstein with accusations, asking, “Why are you keeping information from Congress?”
Rosenstein denied doing so.
“I don’t agree with you, congressman,” he said. “That is not accurate, sir.”
Jordan also accused the deputy attorney general of redacting documents to hide information embarrassing to the FBI.
“Mr. Jordan, I am the deputy attorney general of the United States. I’m not the person doing the redacting,” Rosenstein answered.
As Jordan peppered him with questions, Rosenstein snapped back: “Your use of this to attack me personally is deeply wrong. … I’m not trying to hide anything.”
Jordan responded: “It’s not personal,” as the two continued to argue and Democrats on the panel attempted to interject in Rosenstein’s defense.

Watch for yourself:

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein assured Jordan that the FBI was doing everything in its power to respond to the House of Representatives' requests. (Video: Reuters)

At one point, Jordan accused Rosenstein of threatening to subpoena phone calls. Rosenstein dryly responded that there is no such thing. Laughter broke out in the room.

The sight of a calm, methodical deputy attorney general, patiently answering an unhinged inquisitor’s accusations (followed by interruptions so Rosenstein couldn’t answer), was bracing. Jordan is the perfect incarnation of the GOP in 2018 — unhinged, bullying, unbound by facts and unconcerned with the norms of democratic government. A subsequent, unenforceable House resolution demanding Rosenstein comply with a request for documents concerning the investigation was the perfect coda to a kangaroo-court hearing. And the person responsible for allowing this travesty to go on is House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who exerts no control over his members.

Democratic House candidates might consider running the Jordan video in their ads. It is a vivid display of a party that refuses to fulfill its constitutional functions and aids and abets the president’s attacks on the rule of law. Every Republican elected will vote for his or her speaker (or minority leader), thereby giving consent to put committee gavels in the hands of irresponsible and irrational puppets of the White House. If voters want to check the kind of embarrassing and destructive conduct we saw today and restrain an increasingly out of control president, they’d best not reward House Republicans by preserving their majority.

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