US Rep. Jordan denies claims he knew of Ohio State sex abuse
Wednesday, July 4
FREMONT, Ohio (AP) — U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan said on Wednesday he never knew of sexual abuse by a now-dead doctor who examined wrestlers Jordan helped coach decades ago at Ohio State University.
Jordan, speaking to reporters at a July Fourth rally in Fremont, repeatedly denied claims by ex-wrestlers Mike DiSabato and Dunyasha Yetts, who say the powerful Republican congressman from Ohio knew back then that Richard Strauss was groping male athletes.
Jordan acknowledged that Strauss was among faculty members and other employees who used the same open shower area as athletes in the building where they practiced, but he said he and other coaches with whom he has spoken weren’t aware of any abuse by Strauss.
“We knew of no abuse. Never heard of abuse,” Jordan said. “If we had, we’d have reported it.”
Male Ohio State athletes from 14 sports have alleged sexual misconduct by Strauss, who was on the faculty and medical staff and published a variety of research.
Strauss died in 2005, and his death was ruled a suicide. Surviving relatives haven’t responded to messages left by The Associated Press seeking comment about allegations against him.
The university has urged anyone with relevant information to contact the law firm Perkins Coie, which is conducting an independent investigation. More than 150 former students and witnesses have been interviewed.
Another law firm representing the university in the matter has said investigators tried unsuccessfully to contact Jordan’s office by phone and email to seek an interview with him. The congressman said his office has no record of such outreach and he is willing to talk with investigators but had nothing scheduled as of Wednesday.
He called the timing of the wrestlers’ allegations about him “interesting.”
“If there is any type of abuse of these folks, we want them to get justice, but it’s interesting that the timing is what it is in light of things that are going on in Washington,” Jordan said.
Jordan, a founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus, is a potential contender for U.S. House speaker. He has taken leading roles in fighting the Affordable Care Act and in pushing back against the government’s Russia investigation, most recently interrogating Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in committee.
A spokesman for Speaker Paul Ryan said the university has rightfully initiated an investigation and the speaker will await its findings.
Jordan on Wednesday also expressed concern about being among recipients of an email from DiSabato and said his office planned to touch base with Capitol police about it, but he didn’t elaborate.
House Republicans grill FBI, Justice leaders on Russia probe
By Mary Clare Jalonick and Eric Tucker
Thursday, June 28
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans accused top federal law enforcement officials Thursday of withholding important documents from them and demanded details about surveillance tactics during the Russia investigation in a contentious congressional hearing that capped days of mounting partisan complaints.
In a vote that underscored their frustration, Republicans briefly put the hearing on hold so they could vote for a resolution on the House floor demanding that the Justice Department turn over thousands of documents.
The House Judiciary Committee hearing marked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s first appearance before Congress since an internal Justice Department report criticized the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and revealed new disparaging text messages among FBI officials about President Donald Trump during the 2016 election.
Republicans on the committee suggested Thursday that the department had conspired against Trump by refusing to turn over documents they believe would show improper conduct by the FBI. They seized on the inspector general report to allege bias by the FBI and to discredit an investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign that is now led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
“This country is being hurt by it. We are being divided,” Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, said of the investigation.
“Whatever you’ve got,” he added, “finish it the hell up because this country is being torn apart.”
Rosenstein, at times raising his voice and pointing his finger, strongly defended himself and the department during the hours-long hearing, saying he was doing his best to balance congressional oversight with the need to preserve the integrity of ongoing investigations.
“We are not in contempt of this Congress and we are not going to be in contempt of this Congress,” he said at one point.
The hearing came amid ongoing Republican attacks on the Justice Department and allegations of bias within the FBI against the president. On Wednesday, lawmakers spent hours behind closed doors grilling Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who worked on both the Clinton and Russia investigations and traded anti-Trump text messages with an FBI lawyer.
The inspector general criticized the officials for creating an appearance of impropriety through those messages but did not find evidence that bias had tainted the final decisions of prosecutors in the Clinton investigation.
The resolution that passed along party lines demanded that the department turn over by July 6 documents on FBI investigations into Clinton’s private email use and Trump campaign ties to Russia. Both investigations unfolded during the presidential election, causing the FBI — which prides itself on independence — to become entangled in presidential politics in ways that are continuing to shake out.
Republican Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, one of the strongest GOP critics of the Republican-led Justice Department, and Jim Jordan of Ohio were behind the nonbinding resolution.
Meadows did not deny Democratic assertions that the document requests were related to efforts to undercut Mueller’s probe.
“Yes, when we get these documents, we believe that it will do away with this whole fiasco of what they call the Russian Trump collusion because there wasn’t any,” he said on the House floor.
Those documents have already been subpoenaed by the House judiciary and intelligence committees. The panels want to use the records as part of multiple congressional investigations into the FBI’s decision to clear Clinton in the email investigation and its opening of an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The Justice Department has already turned over more than 800,000 documents to congressional committees, but the subpoenas are asking for additional materials, including records about any surveillance of Trump campaign associates. Lawmakers have threatened to hold top Justice Department officials in contempt or vote to impeach them if the documents aren’t turned over.
On the floor, lawmakers hurled insults as Republicans said Congress is entitled to whatever it wants and Democrats said Republicans were trying to undermine the Russia investigation.
“We have a petulant Department of Justice defended by a petulant Democratic party,” said Rep. Tom Garrett, R-Va.
Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, shot back: “We’re caught up in this nonsense because they can’t get over Hillary Clinton’s emails. Get over it!”
FBI Director Christopher Wray and Rosenstein said law enforcement officials have been working diligently to turn over the requested records, though Republicans made clear their dissatisfaction at the pace.
“We have caught you hiding information from Congress,” Jordan said during the hearing, an accusation Rosenstein strongly denied.
“I am the deputy attorney general of the United States, OK?” he said. “I’m not the person doing the redacting. I am responsible for responding to your concerns, as I have.
“Whenever you have brought issues to my attention, I have taken appropriate steps to remedy them.”
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who chairs the committee, signaled the tone of the hearing in his opening remarks when he complained about the FBI and the Justice Department not producing all of the documents that have been requested.
“The Department of Justice and the FBI are not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. The President and Congress are,” Goodlatte said. “Our Constitutional oversight necessitates that institutions like the FBI and DOJ yield to Congress’ constitutional mandate.”
Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida demanded to know why Rosenstein had not recused himself from oversight of Mueller’s investigation into whether the president had committed obstruction of justice given Rosenstein’s role in laying the groundwork for the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Rosenstein’s memo criticizing Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation was initially cited by the White House as justification for his firing.
“I can assure you that if it were appropriate for me to recuse, I’d be more than happy to do so and let somebody else handle this,” Rosenstein said.