Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is running for House Speaker, he confirmed Thursday. The announcement comes amid allegations from a number of former Ohio State wrestlers, who claim Jordan turned a blind eye to sexual abuse by the team’s doctor while working as an assistant coach at the university.
The Daily Caller first reported Jordan’s plan to announce his bid for speaker Thursday. It was later confirmed by NBC and Jordan himself. The Daily Caller’s report included no mention of the sexual abuse scandal Jordan faces, but asked by NBC whether the investigation will impact his run for Speaker, Jordan said no.
— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) July 26, 2018
“He [says he] has talked to all kinds of colleagues and they can all see through that story,” NBC’s Alex Moe tweeted Thursday.
In April, Jordan told the Daily Caller he was “open” to running for speaker if there were a race. Now, the speakership is up for grabs after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced he will not be seeking reelection this November.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) are both considered contenders for the position as well, though Scalise has said he would not run against McCarthy.
NBC first reported the allegations that Jordan had turned a blind eye to abuse by the team’s doctor, Richard Strauss, earlier this earlier this month. In April, Ohio State University announced they were looking into allegations that Strauss, who died in 2005, abused team members while he served as the team doctor from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s.
Jordan claims he had no idea about the abuse, while a number of former wrestlers say they either personally told Jordan about the abuse or remember Jordan being a part of conversations about the abuse.
“I considered Jim Jordan a friend,” Mike DiSabato, a former wrestler whose allegations against Strauss prompted the school to open the investigations, told NBC in early July. “But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”
DiSabato also told NBC that he reached out to Jordan earlier this year to tell the congressman he planned to go public with his story. Jordan told him to “please leave me out of it,” DiSabato said. “He asked me not to get him involved.”
In June, DiSabato wrote in an email to an attorney appointed as legal counsel to Ohio State, “Strauss sexually assaulted male athletes in at least fifteen varsity sports during his employment at OSU from 1978 through 1998.”
DiSabato told the attorney that victims included members from the university’s football, basketball, wrestling, swimming, cheerleading, volleyball, lacrosse, gymnastics, ice hockey, soccer, baseball, tennis, track and cross country programs.
He added, “Based on testimony from victim athletes from each of the aforementioned varsity sports, we estimate that Strauss sexually assaulted and/or raped a minimum of 1,500/2,000 athletes at OSU from 1978 through 1998.”
Jordan continues to deny any knowledge of the abuse, and Republicans have rallied behind him.
President Trump threw his support behind the Republican congressman earlier this month, saying he believes Jordan “100 percent.”
“I don’t believe them at all,” Trump told reporters, referring to the wrestlers who have come forward. “Jim Jordan is one of the most outstanding people I’ve met since I’ve been in Washington and I believe him 100 percent.”
Ryan, too, defended Jordan, calling him a “man of honesty and a man of integrity” and said there was no ethics probe necessary.
“The ethics committee here investigates things that members do while they’re here, not things that happened a couple of decades ago when they weren’t in Congress,” Ryan said.
Most recently, Fox News host Sean Hannity joined the chorus, telling Jordan he was “sorry” Jordan was the target of a partisan “smear campaign.”
“By the way, I’m sorry you went through that smear campaign. And I knew it was a lie from day one,” Hannity told Jordan during a radio interview Tuesday. “But you know what, they do it to anybody that supports the president. It was just your turn.”