House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) pleaded with his colleague to cut it out. “There are still serious concerns about another attack here in Washington, D.C., and in every corner of this country because of the lies that the election was stolen,” McGovern cautioned, noting FBI warnings about armed protests planned for Sunday at all 50 state capitols.
“For the sake of the country, it would be helpful if you would simply state for the record that this election was not stolen," he urged Jordan. “Those five words, I think, will go a long way to dissuading some of these people.”
Those five words were too much for Jordan. “Now, you have to say exactly what the left wants,” he complained. As for the election, Jordan added, “I never once said it was stolen.”
No? Right after the election, Jordan stood on the steps of the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., at a “Stop the Steal” rally, surrounded by “Stop the Steal” signs and greeted by chants of “Stop the Steal.” He shouted into a bullhorn that “our elections should have integrity.”
Later, he alleged, “President Trump got 11 million more votes than he did in 2016 … but somehow the guy who never left his house wins the election?” He added that “60 million Americans think it was stolen.”
Two days before the riot, he was on Newsmax complaining about “the fraud” and “the unconstitutional fashion in which these elections were held.” Jordan said, “It’s time for us to fight.”
On the day of the insurrection, he claimed Democrats “did an end-run around the Constitution.”
In Trump’s infamous speech last week, the president thanked Jordan by name for “fighting the House.” On Monday, he repaid Jordan by giving him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor
Yet now, after a MAGA mob sacked the Capitol, leaving five dead, Jordan claims he said nothing about the election being stolen?
People like Jordan are why the effort to impeach Trump, which the House takes up Wednesday, is both imperative and insufficient.
Certainly, Trump deserves to be impeached for inciting an insurrection; lawmakers, direct targets of the attack, have ample justification for doing so. If Trump had any integrity, he would resign. If Vice President Pence had integrity, he would invoke the 25th Amendment. If Republican congressional leaders had integrity, they would see to Trump’s removal before he can do more harm. On Tuesday, an unrepentant Trump said his riot-inciting speech was “totally appropriate" — as if any more grounds were needed to justify his ouster.
Even if Trump were removed in his final week, though, the punishment would be inadequate, because it lets his co-conspirators off the hook. The attack on the Capitol was not a protest but a crime. The many people complicit in encouraging, planning, financing or condoning it need to be held to account: Members of Congress, state legislators and attorneys general, and the Internet platforms, businesses, advertisers and political action committees that aid them, must be prosecuted, hit with civil litigation or defunded.
Trump may preemptively pardon himself in the coming days, but he won’t be beyond civil and financial punishments. Let’s hope his enablers will be likewise held accountable for convincing millions that the election was stolen, and moving some to violence.
Jordan told the rules panel that the Jan. 6 violence was “as wrong as wrong can be” — and then likened the MAGA mob’s attack on the Capitol to violence associated with racial-justice protests. He also claimed Republicans’ seditious behavior last week, in which 147 of them voted to overturn the election, was the same as symbolic objections in 2017 from Democrats, McGovern among them, in which neither debate nor votes (nor insurrection) occurred.
Even now, after the sacking of the Capitol, and with militants planning more violence because of lies about a stolen election, Jordan can’t bring himself to say Joe Biden legitimately won.
“Will you admit that Joe Biden won fair and square?” the chairman asked.
Jordan responded by saying states acted in “unconstitutional ways.”
“I’m asking you to make a statement that the election was not stolen,” McGovern repeated.
Jordan allowed that “Joe Biden is going to be sworn in as president” while repeating his “unconstitutional” allegations.
McGovern again asked Jordan to debunk the “lie out there that Joe Biden did not win the election fair and square.”
Replied Jordan, “Are you saying there was no problems, no concerns with the election?”
If political violence reignites over the next week, blame Trump — but also Jordan and his ilk.