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Opinion: Why Liz Cheney’s warning about Jim Jordan is spot-on

Opinion by Dean Obeidallah

(CNN) — Editor’s note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show.” Follow him on Threads at The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. Read more opinion at CNN.

Former GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, who was vice chair of the bipartisan House January 6 committee, is raising alarm bells about fellow Republican Jim Jordan, one of the candidates to become speaker of the House of Representatives.

During a speech Wednesday at the University of Minnesota, Cheney told the audience point-blank, “Jim Jordan knew more about what Donald Trump had planned for January 6 than any other member of the House of Representatives.” She added, “Jim Jordan was involved, was part of the conspiracy in which Donald Trump was engaged as he attempted to overturn the election.”

Pointing to Jordan as one of the leaders of Trump’s efforts surrounding January 6, Cheney said someone needed to ask the Ohio congressman, “Why didn’t you report to the Capitol Police what you knew Donald Trump had planned?”

Cheney’s warning is 100% correct. The January 6 committee’s final report documented that “Jordan was a significant player in President Trump’s efforts” to overturn the 2020 election. Jordan went way beyond simply amplifying Trump’s election lies “during interviews with friendly media outlets” — as the January 6 report details the congressman did in fact do.

The January 6 report goes on to document various efforts by Jordan to help Trump achieve his goal of remaining in power despite losing the 2020 election, including participating “in numerous post-election meetings in which senior White House officials, Rudolph Giuliani, and others, discussed strategies for challenging the election.”

The report also highlights his leadership role, writing that on “January 2, 2021, Representative Jordan led a conference call in which he, President Trump, and other Members of Congress discussed strategies for delaying the January 6th joint session.”

During that call four days before the January 6 attack, the group not only strategized about ways to delay the congressional certification process but also “discussed issuing social media posts encouraging President Trump’s supporters to ‘march to the Capitol’ on the 6th,’” the report said. After that January 2 conference call, Jordan spoke to Trump for 18 minutes in a one-on-one phone conversation, according to the report.

And on the day before January 6 — as described in the report — “Jordan texted Mark Meadows (then Trump’s chief of staff), passing along advice that Vice President (Mike) Pence should ‘call out all the electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.’ ” In other words, Jordan was suggesting how Pence could prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s win when Congress met on January 6.

As part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Trump has been indicted on four criminal counts, including conspiracy to “obstruct and impede the January 6 congressional proceeding.” (The former president has pleaded not guilty and denied all wrongdoing.)

Jordan spoke to Trump at least twice on January 6, according to the report, but made “inconsistent public statements about how many times they spoke and what they discussed” that day. That is a big reason why the January 6 committee subpoenaed Jordan, noting in its report that he was among those who “had materially relevant communications with Donald Trump or others in the White House.” However, Jordan refused to comply with the subpoena. (The January 6 committee referred Jordan and other GOP lawmakers who defied subpoenas to the House Ethics Committee.)

Jordan dismissed the January 6 committee’s investigation as one of the Democrats’ “partisan witch hunts.” In a 2022 letter to committee Chair Bennie Thompson, he insisted that “I have no relevant information that would assist the Select Committee in advancing any legitimate legislative purpose.” He also asserted he has been “consistent in denouncing political violence and supporting law enforcement personnel.”

Nevertheless, how could anyone such as Jordan, who is tied to efforts to block certification of Biden’s victory and who willfully ignored a congressional subpoena, ever serve as speaker of the House? And very alarmingly, if Jordan were elected speaker, he would be second in line to the president of the United States, behind the vice president.

But Jordan might just win, especially given Trump’s endorsement of him on Friday. Trump posted on his social media platform, Truth Social, that Jordan “will be a GREAT Speaker of the House, & has my Complete & Total Endorsement!”

Of course, Trump believes that Jordan would be great, given how doggedly the lawmaker worked to keep the former president in power after he lost the 2020 election. The January 6 committee report notes that during a December 27, 2020, phone call between Trump and top Department of Justice officials in which Trump made a “stream of allegations” about the election, he praised Jordan as a “fighter.”

During her speech last week, Cheney shared that she did not believe Jordan would ultimately be elected speaker. (He’s vying for the position against Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority leader.) However, she declared that if House Republicans did elect Jordan, “there would no longer be any possible way to argue that a group of elected Republicans could be counted on to defend the Constitution.”

(CNN reached out to Jordan’s office on Friday about Cheney’s comments and the January 6 committee but did not receive a response.)

Cheney is right. The House GOP has a choice. This week when Republicans are set to vote on a new speaker they can either defend our Constitution or they can choose a Trump loyalist who worked to raise doubts about the election and erase the voice of more than 81 million Americans who voted for Biden. America will be watching.

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