House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) rejected calls for a congressional ethics probe into allegations against his Republican colleague, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).
Former athletes at Ohio State University have accused Jordan, their former wrestling coach, of looking the other way after they were sexually abused by a team doctor. While Jordan has fiercely denied the accusations since the story first broke, more accusers continue to come forward.
Jordan has also lashed out at the media for continuing to investigate, saying Wednesday that CNN reporters calling his former staff and interns was an example of “fake news.”
In response to a question about Jordan, Ryan argued that a probe was not needed because the alleged events would have occurred before Jordan was elected to office. “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 Wednesday.
Ryan also said Jordan is “a man of honesty and a man of integrity” and that Ohio State should conduct a review of the doctor who allegedly abused the wrestlers under Jordan’s watch. An aide for Ryan previously said that the speaker found the allegations “serious” and would wait for the university’s review.
"I have always known Jim Jordan to be a man of honesty," Paul Ryan said Wednesday.
Ryan also said the school should review his conduct, but not the Ethics Committee, which doesn't investigate "things that happened a couple of decades ago when they weren't in Congress." pic.twitter.com/2BvtCmPid0
— POLITICO (@politico) July 11, 2018
Republicans in Congress have largely opted to stand by Jordan as well. In a tweet, The House Freedom Caucus, which Jordan co-founded, also called Jordan “a man of integrity.”
Jim Jordan is a man of integrity, and we believe him and stand with him 100 percent. If he had seen or heard something he would have acted. We continue to support his work in Congress to fight for everyday Americans.
— House Freedom Caucus (@freedomcaucus) July 11, 2018
Jordan’s fellow Freedom Caucus member, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), took his support of Jordan a step further by attacking the accusers directly. Gohmert claimed that their “extremely troubled backgrounds and ongoing legal and financial troubles place the veracity of their allegations into the realm of ridiculous.”
Republicans’ response to Jordan’s accusers stands in stark contrast to how they responded to other allegations. They were swift to join Democratic colleagues in calls for an ethics probe after former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) was accused of sexual harassment. They’ve also been happy to stand by President Donald Trump, who stands accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. And their hesitance to denounce former GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, accused of sexual misconduct involving minors, only turned into condemnation after he lost his election.
Not everyone agrees with Ryan’s decision regarding an ethics probe, though. The nonprofit watchdog group Democracy 21 filed a formal ethics complaint against Jordan through on July 9, asking that the Office of Congressional Ethics determine whether Jordan was “making false statements” about his knowledge of the abuse happening at Ohio State. The group also fired back earlier Wednesday at Ryan’s reasoning for his dismissal of the need for an ethics probe.