Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-Ohio) is many things: an ardent climate change denier, a fierce opponent of reproductive rights, an advocate for “traditional” marriage and a staunch defender of the President’s right to straight-up lie to the American people. He is also alleged to be something else: an ignorer of rampant campus sexual abuse, per 2018 reports that Jordan turned a blind eye to Ohio State University wrestlers’ allegations against a team doctor during his time as an assistant coach at OSU. (In 2018, Ohio State hired a law firm to conduct an ongoing investigation into the claims; the investigation is “nearing its conclusion,” per the campus newspaper the Ohio State University Lantern.)
That’s in part why people were taken aback when, during former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, Jordan started attacking Cohen by undermining his credibility and raising questions about his character.
During his remarks, Jordan pointed out that Cohen had already admitted to lying to Congress before, thus undermining the credibility of his testimony. “This might be the first time someone convicted of lying to Congress has appeared again so quickly in front of Congress,” he said. (Cohen is set to start a three-year prison term for lying to Congress, in addition to charges of tax evasion and campaign finance violation, in May.) Jordan also hinted that Cohen was part of a larger left-wing conspiracy to destroy President Trump, alleging that Cohen was a “patsy” for the Democrats.
Jordan also alleged that Cohen’s statement of remorse during his testimony was “nonexistent”: “He just debated a member of Congress, saying, ‘I really didn’t do anything wrong with the false bank things that I’m guilty of and going to prison for.'”
Cohen did not take kindly to Jordan’s attacks, saying in his testimony, “I pled guilty and I take responsibility for my actions. Shame on you, Mr. Jordan.” On social media, many people found Jordan’s behavior galling, particularly in light of allegations that Jordan, who served as assistant wrestling coach to the OSU wrestling team from 1987 to 1995, had turned a blind eye to sexual abuse allegations against team doctor Dr. Richard Strauss. Many were quick to point out Jordan’s apparent hypocrisy:
Strauss is alleged to have had abused more than 1,000 student athletes in 15 varsity sports during his tenure at the university. (He took his own life in 2005.) Many of Strauss’s victims have accused Jordan of having prior knowledge of Strauss’ history of abuse, explicitly naming Jordan in a class-action lawsuit filed last July in U.S. District Court in Ohio against Ohio State University.
The wrestlers allege that Jordan made jokes and comments about Strauss’s history of predatory behavior to the other wrestlers, and that he was dismissive to athletes who came forward with complaints about his conduct. One former wrestler, Dunyasha Yetts, alleges that he even spoke to Jordan directly about the abuse.
“It’s sad for me to hear that he’s denying knowing about Strauss,” he told NBC News. “I don’t know why he would, unless it’s a cover-up. Either you’re in on it, or you’re a liar.”
For his part, Jordan denies the allegations, referring to them in one tweet as “fake news.” A number of former OSU student athletes have also come forward in his defense, as have fellow GOP lawmakers like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R.-Fla.), who has publicly stated his belief that the allegations are part of a “deep state” conspiracy targeting Jordan.