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GOP looks to bolster its impeachment inquiry team with pro-Trump firebrand

Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- House Republican leaders are considering adding a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump who has been involved in the closed-door sessions of the impeachment inquiry to the Intelligence Committee days before public hearings are set to begin.

A senior Republican source said that Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan's temporary addition to the committee would be meant as a complement to California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, ranking minority member.

Some Republicans have privately questioned whether Nunes is prepared for the role, but the person said the move would be intended to create the best team to defend Trump, and not meant as a criticism of Nunes.

Nunes did not respond to a request for comment.

Jordan has been an active participant in nearly all of the closed-door depositions taken so far, with him and his chief investigative counsel asking questions throughout the daylong hearings. Jordan has also been one of the most visible defenders of the president to the press.

Nunes, by contrast, doesn't speak to most mainstream media outlets and has either not attended the hearings or minimally engaged when he does, according to multiple members who have attended.

 

Jordan, the ranking Republican on the Oversight Committee, and two other outspoken Trump supporters -- Reps. Lee Zeldin of New York and Mark Meadows of North Carolina -- were sidelined by provisions of the Democratic resolution passed last week that set the rules and procedures for the public hearings of the impeachment inquiry. The measure narrowed which committees and which representatives can participate in this next phase to just the 22 members of the Intelligence Committee.

That left Nunes as the main Trump defender left to square off in public hearings against Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff, a California Democrat and former U.S. attorney, when public hearings begin Wednesday.

Trump allies quickly began urging House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to add Jordan, Zeldin or Meadows to the Intelligence Committee. McCarthy gets final say over Republican committee assignments, and he has until Tuesday to decide for a change to be made in time for Wednesday's public hearing.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., tweeted Tuesday that McCarthy should replace Republicans on the Intelligence Committee who haven't participated much, though he didn't name anyone specifically.

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