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House GOP Moves Two Vocal Trump Allies to Key Panel Spots

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 2/11/2020 Billy House
Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows are posing for a picture: Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, left, speaks to members of the media with Representative Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, in the Senate Subway at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. © Bloomberg Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, left, speaks to members of the media with Representative Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, in the Senate Subway at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- House Republicans are putting two of Donald Trump’s most outspoken defenders into position to take leading roles in challenging any investigations of the president launched by Democrats between now and Election Day.

Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina were designated the ranking Republicans on the Judiciary and Oversight committees respectively by House GOP members Tuesday. The two committees will be main venues for Democratic post-impeachment probes of the president.

Former GOP Representative Dennis Ross, who served in Congress from 2011 through 2019, said Jordan and Meadows will be in a position to throw sand in the gears of Democratic plans and serve as the White House’s eyes and ears amid any investigation.

”Politically, this is a good thing for the president,” Ross, now director of the American Center for Political Leadership at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, said.

Jordan and Meadows were ubiquitous during the House impeachment hearings on cable news programs and Twitter. Jordan was temporarily placed on the Intelligence Committee during public hearings by GOP leaders to cross-examine witnesses and challenge evidence. During the Senate trial, both were designated by Trump to serve as defense advisers and public surrogates.

“I’m going to go fight for the things I think are important to the folks I represent, important to the conference, important to Republican and important to Americans,” Jordan said.

Read More: Giuliani Giving Ukraine Data to Justice Department, Barr Says

Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, both New York Democrats, have said there would be no letup in scrutiny of Trump and his administration despite his acquittal last week in the Senate impeachment trial.

Their committees will keep seeking a wide range of evidence and testimony as they look into Trump’s administration, his policies and his businesses and finances, though no specific investigations have been announced by the panels or House leaders.

House Democrats also plan to keep a focus on Trump’s conduct in dealing with Ukraine, and Nadler hasn’t ruled out trying to subpoena former National Security Advisor John Bolton and other witnesses who were blocked by Trump from testifying during the impeachment inquiry. There also are multiple court cases running on separate tracks seeking access to the president’s tax returns, testimony from former White House officials and financial records to show whether the president is unlawfully profiting from foreign governments that could trigger investigations.

Read More: Democrats Vow Trump Probes to Go On After Impeachment Trial Ends

In a move made with the blessing of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, Jordan will be leaving the top Republican spot on the Oversight Committee to moving up on Judiciary, replacing Representative Doug Collins who is stepping down in March to run for Senate in Georgia. Meadows, who isn’t seeking re-election in November, will replace Jordan as ranking Republican on Oversight.

“It’s an important job, and I appreciated that Kevin and the steering committee has given it a thumbs up,” Jordan said.

Meadows was with Trump at a rally in New Hampshire on Monday and didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Most Democrats declined Monday to comment on the committee changes, including both Nadler and Maloney, through their spokesmen. Democratic Representative Jim Himes of Connecticut, said Republicans have been playing defense for Trump since he took office.

”So it’s nothing new,” Himes said. “It’s obviously inconsistent with the role of Congress. We’re supposed to do oversight.”

Senate Coordination

As members of the minority party in the House, Jordan and Meadows can’t stop Nadler and Maloney from issuing committee subpoenas or initiating investigations and hearings. But they can make their own subpoena requests as a way to deliver a counter message even if they’re rejected and deliver minority reports in an effort to rebut Democratic findings.

Their most effective tool may be coordinating with Senate Republicans, who can run parallel investigations more favorable to the president.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, has said he would hold hearings on Hunter Biden’s work on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Separately, GOP Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Finance Committee, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, have asked the U.S. Secret Service to provide records of Hunter Biden’s travel when his father, Joe Biden, was vice president.

Johnson said Monday that the investigation would examine “potentially misuse of agencies, possible corruption, whether Hunter’s involvement affected the Obama administration’s decisions related to Ukraine. I’ve got a lot of unanswered questions.”

Trump’s request to Ukraine’s president to investigate Hunter Biden and the actions of Joe Biden, a potential 2020 challenger to Trump, was central to the impeachment charges brought against him by the Democratic House majority.

Jordan and Meadows are likely “to work with their Senate counterparts who, as we’ve seen recently with Hunter Biden’s records, have no hesitations about using their perches to investigate Trump’s political rivals,” said Kurt Bardella, a former senior adviser to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Republicans who has since switched parties. “Going forward, I expect we’ll see a lot of coordination between Senate majority and House minority.”

Meadows and Jordan were among the Republican lawmakers who drew praise from Trump last week when the president held a post-acquittal celebration at the White House.

Meadows stood up at the White House event to tell Trump that the backing of Republicans in the room “is a small reflection of the kind of support you have all across the country. We’ve got your back.”

(Updates with House GOP making move official in second paragraph)

--With assistance from Emily Wilkins.

To contact the reporter on this story: Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, John Harney

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

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