Jim Jordan Just Blamed The ‘Deep State’ For His Sexual Abuse Scandal
During the Obama presidency, fear of the “deep state” was the domain of the fringe, AM-radio hacks, Alex Jones and Internet conspiracy-mongers. After the election of Donald Trump, however, the term has gone mainstream. According to a recent Monmouth University poll, three in four Americans believe the deep state exists.
Trump and his supporters describe it as a force they can’t see. But they are utterly convinced that an invisible cabal of unelected military and government officials who steered policy from the bowels of Washington.
And Republicans, inspired by Trump’s use of the term to demonize federal investigations into his campaign, are following suit, blaming the deep state for everything from undermining Ben Carson to, in the case of House Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan, fueling allegations that he ignored reports of sexual harassment while working as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University.
The O.S.U. scandal could be a career-ender for Jordan. In recent days, multiple former wrestlers at Ohio State have come forward to accuse Dr. Richard Strauss, who committed suicide in 2005, of sexual harassment.
Several victims told the Associated Press that Strauss did things like touch them inappropriately during medical check-ups, and “[shower] among athletes multiple times a day for no apparent reason or [perch] himself on a stool to stare.”
Jordan, they say, was fully aware of these behaviors.
“There’s no way unless he’s got dementia or something that he’s got no recollection of what was going on at Ohio State,” former M.M.A. star Mark Coleman, who trained under Jordan, told The Wall Street Journal.
“I remember coming up and telling Jordan, ‘Strauss held my balls longer than normal,’” the wrestler told CNN. Jordan, the wrestler said, “just snickered.” The congressman is “denying this because obviously, it would be political suicide for him,” the former athlete added. But “Jim Jordan knew. He didn’t do anything about it.”
Jordan’s response has been both swift and brutal. “It’s not true,” the congressman told Politico shortly after the A.P.’s initial story broke. “I never knew about any type of abuse. If I did, I would have done something about it. And look, if there are people who are abused, then that’s terrible and we want justice to happen.”
However, as more and more witnesses come forward to contradict Jordan, the Ohio Republican has deployed one of the most potent weapons of the Trump presidency: the claim that the allegations against him are a weapon of the deep state.
During a Friday interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier, Jordan claimed that Perkins Coie, the law firm hired by O.S.U. to investigate the claims, is connected to the Clinton campaign, represented the D.N.C., and commissioned the controversial Steele dossier that claimed Trump had colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.
Baier asked whether Jordan was claiming that a “conspiracy” had been hatched against him. Jordan dodged a direct anser, but proceeded to throw red meat to the right:
“I think the timing is suspect when you think about how this whole story came together after the Rosenstein hearing and the Speaker’s race,” he said, referring first to a contentious exchange with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over access to classified information, and second to a nascent campaign to install him as Speaker after Ryan’s departure.
The right ran with it. In short order, Breitbart had published several articles sympathetic to Jordan, blasting the mainstream media for “failing to report that Perkins Coie commissioned the Steele dossier.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh got in on the action as well, telling listeners that “Jim Jordan is the next target, and it’s obviously because he’s had a successful interrogation period with Rod Rosenstein and is being mentioned for possible Speaker of the House role or position.”
Similar articles have appeared in the American Spectator (“The Deep State Finds Its Next Target: Why It’s Zeroing in on Jim Jordan”), Gateway Pundit (“Deep State Targets Conservative Favorite Jim Jordan with Vicious Smear Campaign After Announcing Speakership Plans”), and on even fringier sites. On Wednesday, Jordan himself chimed in, tweeting that CNN was in the process of contacting former Ohio State employees “asking for dirt on me,” and deriding this standard reporting practice as “desperate.”
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, meanwhile, tweeted his suspicions early on: “This is a deliberate attempt to knock the best oversight member of Congress off his game the week Strzok is scheduled to testify,” he wrote.