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The most important thing to know about Jim Jordan

Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN

(CNN) — There’s one main thing to know about Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who does not yet have the votes to become speaker of the House of Representatives.

He’s a passive skeptic of the 2020 presidential election results, but was an active election denier who appeared at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Pennsylvania and also appears to have played a role in former President Donald Trump’s post-election strategy to overturn the results.

Jordan, to this day, does not acknowledge that Trump lost in 2020.

Rep. Ken Buck, a solid conservative from Colorado, said he might support Jordan if Jordan could simply admit in public that Trump lost the 2020 election.

When reporters asked Jordan on Capitol Hill about Buck’s request, Jordan ignored them and silently got into an elevator.

There are other important elements of Jordan’s professional biography.

Not a legislator

Jordan has played a very specific role in Congress, and it is not that of dealmaker, the main job requirement of modern House speakers. In fact, Jordan has never been the primary sponsor of a major piece of legislation that was enacted into law.

The Center for Effective Lawmaking ranks members of Congress based on the amount of major legislation that bears their fingerprints, and Jordan’s rating is one of the lowest. Pushing for legislation is clearly not his priority.

Attack dog extraordinaire

If you’ve watched a House hearing meant to provide oversight of a Democratic administration, Jordan was probably involved.

He was a chief critic of Hillary Clinton during rounds of hearings related to the death of a US ambassador in Benghazi, Libya. More recently, he’s among the top Republican voices building up a political dossier to imply, without direct evidence, that President Joe Biden sought to benefit from his son Hunter’s career.

“This is a guy that has basically made it very clear that his whole goal isn’t to govern, it’s not to legislate, it’s to destroy the Democrats,” said CNN senior political commentator Adam Kinzinger, the Republican former congressman turned Republican critic, during an appearance on the network earlier this month.

During the Trump administration, Jordan was Trump’s chief defender during impeachment hearings preceding Trump’s first impeachment in the House.

Kinzinger was one of the few Republican members of the House committee tasked with investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection. The committee dissolved in January 2023, when Republicans took control of the House.

Republicans had tried to instill Jordan on the committee, but former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the proposal because of concerns about Jordan’s statements and actions.

Jordan features more prominently than any other House lawmaker in the committee’s report

Members of the House January 6 committee referred Jordan to the House Ethics Committee for refusing to comply with their subpoena to testify.

But it is notable that special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election, has not charged Jordan with any crime related to the election.

Here are the key points made about Jordan in the January 6 report that the House committee released in late 2022:

He was a main contact for Trump’s allies on January 6

When Trump’s then-attorney and henchman Rudy Giuliani wanted to continue to try to delay the counting of electoral votes after the storming of the Capitol on January 6, Jordan was among the lawmakers he called.

He was on the receiving end of Trump supporters’ advice about strategy

When Sean Hannity, the Fox News personality, wanted to suggest that Trump stop talking about the election, he wrote a text to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Jordan.

The committee called him a ‘significant player in President Trump’s efforts’

Jordan, according to the committee’s report, “participated in numerous post-election meetings in which senior White House officials, Rudolph Giuliani, and others, discussed strategies for challenging the election, chief among them claims that the election had been tainted by fraud.”

He took part in a January 2, 2021, conference call with Trump and others about “strategies for delaying the January 6th joint session.”

One topic of discussion: “issuing social media posts encouraging President Trump’s supporters to ‘march to the Capitol.’”

He thought Pence should dispute Electoral College votes

The day before January 6, Jordan texted Meadows suggesting then-Vice President Mike Pence should “should ‘call out all the electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.’”

Pence, notably and to his credit, did not believe that any of the electoral votes were unconstitutional because there was no evidence of fraud.

Jordan was on the phone with Trump. The committee refers to Jordan speaking to Trump at least twice on January 6 and taking five calls from Giuliani after the insurrection, although three of the calls from Giuliani were not connected.

He was interested in pardons

After the insurrection, Jordan “spoke with White House staff about the prospect of Presidential pardons for Members of Congress.”

Jordan’s elevation to the top position in the House and second in line for the presidential line of succession, should he be able to find the votes, would cement the election skeptic way of thinking as the default for Republicans.

That may not be a surprise since Republicans seem primed to elevate the election skeptic in chief, Trump, as their presidential nominee for the third time next year. But it does suggest that the party is not yet ready to move on from the last election, even as it prepares for the next one.

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