One of President Trump’s staunchest defenders on Capitol Hill is bowing out of the race to become the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, anticipating that party leaders would select someone else for the position.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has been one of the loudest voices questioning whether anti-Trump bias affected decisions FBI and Justice Department officials made in their probes of the Trump presidential campaign’s alleged Russia ties and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server — agencies that are under the purview of the powerful Judiciary panel. As a member of that panel, Jordan has often clashed with GOP leaders to be more aggressive about questioning law enforcement agents and demanding documents.
GOP leaders have long anticipated that Jordan might try to become the ranking Republican on the committee, even while Jordan was making a bid to be the party leader in the House — a race he lost this month to current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Jordan only publicly confirmed earlier this week that he had completed a questionnaire and formally thrown his hat in the ring for the Judiciary panel.
Decisions about panel leadership positions are made by the GOP’s steering committee — members of which who have not shown an inclination to support Jordan’s bid.
“It was made clear to him that leadership will be selecting someone else,” said Ian Fury, a spokesman for the congressman, in confirming Jordan’s decision.
Jordan was running against Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.) to lead the Judiciary committee Republicans. Both Chabot and Collins are considered by party leaders to be conservative but less combative than Jordan.
Jordan currently serves on the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform panels, and by seniority he was next in line to become the Oversight Committee’s ranking member.
While party leaders have indicated a willingness to have a staunch Trump defender lead the party on the Oversight panel, they were nervous about handing over a post as sensitive as Judiciary Committee ranking member to a firebrand such as Jordan.
Still, Jordan chose to run for the Judiciary post while his close friend Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) applied to lead the Republicans on Oversight.
The two leaders of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who have become the most prominent Trump defenders on the Hill, promised not to challenge each other.
“He’s my best friend in Congress,” Meadows said of Jordan this week. “We would never run against each other.”
Meadows did not immediately answer a question about whether he would step aside to allow Jordan to run for Oversight, and Jordan’s spokesman refused to detail whether he had further aspirations.