Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio.) on Wednesday told CNN that he supports his colleague Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who is reportedly under federal investigation over an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
“I believe Matt Gaetz,” Jordan told CNN congressional correspondent Ryan Nobles. “He should not be removed from the Judiciary Committee.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) has called for Gaetz’s removal from the powerful House committee while the Justice Department investigates him. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Gaetz is suspected of paying for a minor with whom he had a sexual relationship to travel with him roughly two years ago, which may have violated federal sex trafficking laws. Gaetz has denied all wrongdoing and said he has not had any relationship with a 17-year-old.
Jordan, who like Gaetz is an ardent conservative and Donald Trump ally, was one of a handful of Republicans to take a clear position on the investigation. But as many critics noted online, Jordan’s own history tarnishes him as a character reference on this issue.
Jordan was accused in 2018 by multiple former wrestlers at Ohio State University of ignoring and covering up sexual misconduct by a team doctor while he was a coach there from 1986 to 1994. More than 100 former students testified that Dr. Richard Strauss sexually harassed or assaulted them. Last year, former Ohio State wrestler Adam DiSabato said during public testimony that Jordan pressured him and other wrestlers to “flip their stories.” Jordan has said he was never aware of any abuse and has denied that account.
So far, other Republicans have been more muted about Gaetz. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) said Gaetz would only be removed from the House Judiciary Committee if the allegations were proved to be true.
Conservative Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson called an conversation Tuesday with Gaetz, in which he denied all wrongdoing and claimed the allegations were part of an extortion plot, one of the “weirdest” interviews he’d ever conducted.