House Oversight ranking member Jim Jordan will serve on the Intelligence Committee during public impeachment proceedings, temporarily replacing fellow Republican Rick Crawford, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Friday.
Jordan has been the leading Republican in the closed-door impeachment inquiry depositions that have been conducted jointly by the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs panels. Under procedures the House approved Oct. 31, the Intelligence Committee will be the sole panel participating in the public hearings. (Later, the Judiciary Committee, which Jordan is already on, will conduct additional public proceedings for considering articles of impeachment.)
Since Jordan has been leading Republicans’ defense of President Donald Trump in the closed witness interviews, GOP leadership wants to ensure the Ohio lawmaker has a role in the public questioning as well.
“Jim Jordan has been on the front lines in the fight for fairness and truth. His addition will ensure more accountability and transparency in this sham process,” McCarthy said in a statement.
Intelligence ranking member Devin Nunes of California will stay in his post as the top Republican on the panel, a House GOP aide said.
That means it will be Nunes, not Jordan, who will lead the Republican portions of the public hearings.
The procedures the House approved give Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff and Nunes, as ranking member, and their staffs a significant role in conducting the hearings.
The initial questioning — to be conducted in 90-minute rounds, split evenly between the majority and the minority — can only be conducted by Schiff, Nunes or an Intelligence Committee staff member they yield to.
When both sides have exhausted questioning under that format, then other committee members will have five minutes each to ask questions, just like in normal hearings.
That means Jordan will only get to actively participate for five minutes — a much more minor role than the one he has played in the closed-door depositions.
Jordan, like any other member, can also raise parliamentary inquiries to ask questions about the way Schiff is running the proceedings. He and other Republicans used that tool during the closed-door proceedings to call attention to what they saw as flaws in the process, but Schiff largely dismissed their questions as “dilatory” tactics.
In what is arguably a more significant move, Republicans have made Jordan’s investigative counsel on Oversight, Steve Castor, a shared staffer between the Oversight and Intelligence panels, according to the GOP aide.
Castor conducted most of the witness questioning for Republicans during the depositions and will now be able to do so in the public hearings as a part-time Intelligence staff member.
Nunes, who has not asked many questions in the depositions based on the transcripts released so far, can yield most of his time to Castor. Jordan can also feed questions to Castor and effectively run the show without being in the lead Republican chair atop the dais.
As for Crawford, he’ll get his Intelligence seat back after the impeachment proceedings conclude, McCarthy said, calling the Arkansas Republican “an exemplary member.”
Unlike most standing committees in which GOP membership is decided by the Republican Steering Committee and subject to ratification by the full conference, the Intelligence panel is a permanent select committee for which the GOP leader has sole discretion to pick the members.