Fact-checking Jim Jordan’s letter to the Jan. 6 committee

Fact-checking Jim Jordan’s letter to the Jan. 6 committee
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In a letter sent Sunday responding to a request to meet with the House select committee investigating January 6, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio accused the investigation of spreading misinformation “to paint a false and misleading narrative.”

As part of its effort to examine the role former President Donald Trump and his allies played in the insurrection, the committee has already interviewed more than 300 witnesses but its interview requests to Jordan and other major allies of former President Donald Trump represent a significant step in the investigation.

When asked on Monday, Jordan declined to say explicitly that he would not cooperate with the committee but emphasized that “The letter speaks for itself. You read the letter. We put the reasons in there, we put the statements in there that we did because we felt that were important to say.”

Here are the facts around some of the statements and assertions in Jordan’s four-page letter.

Jordan’s relevancy

Jordan indicated he doesn’t plan to cooperate with the committee’s request because he has “no relevant information that would assist the Select Committee.”

Facts First: Though Jordan might not believe he has relevant information, what matters is that the Select Committee does. Committee Chair Bennie Thompson requested Jordan’s cooperation on the basis that he “had at least one and possibly multiple communications with President Trump on January 6th.” A January 6 select committee spokesperson said in response to Jordan’s letter that due to these communications he does have information the committee is seeking and is a “material witness.”

It’s worth noting that Jordan is a long-term Trump ally who objected to the certification of the November 2020 election in the House on January 6. In December 2020, Jordan attended meetings at the White House with Trump, then-Vice President Mike Pence, and a handful of other congressional Republicans to discuss how to overturn the election results. Ultimately, Jordan voted to overturn the results in the two states where Republicans’ objections made it to a vote — Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Republican members

Attempts to establish a bipartisan committee to investigate the January 6 attack have been plagued by partisan conflict since the start. Even after both sides agreed to a structure for the panel, tensions emerged around who should sit on it.

Jordan claimed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “failed to consult with Leader McCarthy about the appointment of Republican members,” thereby violating a requirement outlined in the resolution establishing the select committee.

Facts First: This is misleading. McCarthy initially selected five GOP members to serve on the committee. Pelosi rejected two, Jordan and Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, but accepted the other three. However, McCarthy pulled all five members in response to Pelosi’s rejection. Pelosi then selected Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger to represent the GOP on the panel.

This is not a new line of attack from Republicans against the committee. In response to lawsuits trying to argue the committee’s subpoenas are invalid because of how the members were chosen, Charles Tiefer, a legislative professor at University of Baltimore School of Law and a former House deputy general counsel, said in December 2021 that, “As far as the resolution creating the committee, it only promised ‘consultation’ with the minority. It did not promise the minority particular membership.”

Texts to Meadows

In December 2021, the House select committee released new text messages obtained from former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that were sent to him in the days leading up to the insurrection and while the Capitol was under siege.

During a meeting to consider whether to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress, committee member Rep. Adam Schiff read from a graphic which included a portion of a text sent to Meadows from an “unnamed lawmaker.”

According to Jordan, Schiff “doctored” a text message Jordan had “forwarded” to Meadows which was among those released.

Facts First: It’s misleading for Jordan to suggest Schiff “doctored” the text. While the text Schiff read was not the entirety of what Jordan sent Meadows, every word he said was included in Jordan’s message. A committee source told CNN an aide inadvertently placed a period before the end of a sentence in the graphic that was not in the original text. The rest of the text, which was not read aloud by Schiff or shown during the meeting, outlined a legal justification for why Pence could prevent the certification of the 2020 election which was initially sent to Jordan from Joseph Schmitz, a former Department of Defense inspector general.

Days after the portion of the text was shared by Schiff, a spokesperson for Jordan confirmed that the congressman had sent it to Meadows on January 5 but that it was part of a longer message Jordan had forwarded from Schmitz.

“Mr. Jordan forwarded the text to Mr. Meadows, and Mr. Meadows certainly knew it was a forward,” Russell Dye, a spokesperson for Jordan, confirmed to CNN.

The text as shown on the graphic read: ‘On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.”

Three sources told CNN the full message was: “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all — in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence. ‘No legislative act,’ wrote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 78, ‘contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.’ The court in Hubbard v. Lowe reinforced this truth: ‘That an unconstitutional statute is not a law at all is a proposition no longer open to discussion.’ 226 F. 135, 137 (SDNY 1915), appeal dismissed, 242 U.S. 654 (1916). Following this rationale, an unconstitutionally appointed elector, like an unconstitutionally enacted statute, is no elector at all.”

Gag orders

The House select committee has asked phone companies for records including subscriber information and call logs but not the content of individual communications.

In his letter, Jordan claimed the committee “has abused fundamental civil liberties” by “seeking to impose gag orders on telecom and email companies to prevent them from notifying their customers that the Select Committee has demanded their data.”

Facts First: This is misleading at best. It’s possible Jordan’s claim is based on the fact that the committee at one point asked Verizon to contact them if the company could not respond to requests without alerting the specific subscriber or account. However, after the committee issued its latest round of phone record subpoenas, Verizon did inform its customers they would need to file in court by January 5 if they wanted to try to block the panel from getting the records, according to some of the filings.

Bernard Kerik

Jordan said the committee “falsely accused former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik of attending a meeting in Washington on January 5, 2021, when Kerik was actually in New York City.”

Facts First: While it’s unclear whether Kerik was physically present at the January 5 meeting in Washington, he did play a role in helping organized the election-related command center for Trump advisors in DC ahead of January 6.

Kerik was subpoenaed by the committee in November in part because the committee alleged he had attended a meeting at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC on January 5 in which Trump advisors discussed options for overturning the election results. But in a letter, Kerik’s lawyer Timothy Parlatore wrote that “Mr. Kerik never participated in any such meeting,” adding that “he was in New York dealing with a family medical emergency” on January 5.

Even if Kerik wasn’t in DC, that does not automatically absolve him of what the committee claims, as he could have participated in the meeting remotely by dialing in. The fact remains that Kerik was involved in operations at the Willard more broadly.

In its request to Kerik, the committee mentioned public records which show Kerik “paid for rooms and suites in Washington, DC, hotels that served as election-related command centers” and cited a Washington Post article which names Kerik as an investigator for the effort to reinstate Trump.

While the article does not specify whether Kerik attended the Jan. 5 meeting, Kerik confirmed to CNN that most of the Post’s story was accurate.

Kerik also told CNN that he and others on the legal team were focused on investigating election fraud starting on November 5 and that’s what they were doing at the Willard.

“Moving into the Willard had nothing to do with January 6,” Kerik said.

The-CNN-Wire
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