Speaker Ryan, Republicans rally around Rep. Jim Jordan amid wrestler abuse allegations

WASHINGTON — Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday joined a unified GOP front supporting Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in the face of allegations from some former wrestlers at Ohio State University that he turned a blind eye to sexual abuse by the team's doctor.

"Jim Jordan is a friend of mine," Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters. "We haven't always agreed with each other over the years.... I've also known Jim Jordan to be a man of honesty and a man of integrity."

Ryan said he had spoken with Jordan over the weekend when he checked in on him because Jordan's nephew, a wrestler at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, died in a car accident.

The speaker said he wants to make sure that "Ohio State conducts a review of this doctor and what he did and that's important so that campuses are safe, and I'm glad that Jim is supporting that review."

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Figures who have rallied around Rep. Jim Jordan
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Figures who have rallied around Rep. Jim Jordan

President Donald Trump

(Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan

(Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)

(REUTERS/Leah Millis)

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)

(REUTERS/Sean Gardner)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Jim Jordan is a man of integrity, and we believe him and stand with him 100 percent. If he had seen or heard someth… https://t.co/A8jbEMpDKL

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

(REUTERS/Mike Blake)

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Jordan, who was an assistant wrestling coach at OSU, told reporters Wednesday that he's still working on scheduling an interview with investigators hired by the university who are looking into the alleged abuse by the doctor, Richard Strauss, who has since died.

Jordan continued to deny allegations that he was generally aware of locker-room talk about abuse by the doctor and that he had been specifically told of the doctor's conduct by one wrestler.

"I am telling the truth," Jordan said. "I stood up to the speaker of the House from my home state, to the IRS and to the FBI. To think that I would not stand up for my athletes is ridiculous."

The conservative House Freedom Caucus, which Jordan helped found, released a statement backing him Tuesday night, days after the allegations were first reported by NBC News.

"Jim Jordan is a man of integrity, and we believe him and stand with him 100 percent. If he had seen or heard something he would have acted," the statement said on Twitter.

Supporters have also launched a website defending the Republican lawmaker.

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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbour, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) questions FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks at a news conference with 10 other Republican members of Congress announcing their introduction of a U.S. House resolution alleging misconduct in the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation and requesting the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate the law enforcement probes into the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) arrives ahead of FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbour, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) talks with House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (L) on the floor prior to the start of the election for the new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in the House Chamber in Washington October 29, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) (L), and Jim Jordan (R-OH) listen to FBI Director Christopher Wray U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testify during a House Judiciary Committee hearing June 28, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on oversight of FBI and DOJ actions surrounding the 2016 election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee June 28, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. While scheduled to discuss the Justice Department Inspector general report released this month on the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, Republicans were expected to use the opportunity to press for release of documents subpoenaed by the committee that detail FBI actions in 2016. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18: Members of the House Freedom Caucus (L-R) Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) arrive for a House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the U.S. Capitol December 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 06: Members of the House Freedom Caucus, (L-R) Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) participate in a Politico Playbook Breakfast interview at the W Hotel on April 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 15: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks during the House Freedom Caucus news conference on Affordable Care Act replacement legislation on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 29: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, talks with reporters after the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on November 29, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 4: House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks during a live television broadcast on Capitol Hill, December 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. The House voted to formally send their tax reform bill to a joint conference committee with the Senate, where they will try to merge the two bills. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks with reporters as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES ? MARCH 27: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ind., speaks during the Republican Study Committee news conference to unveil a FY2013 budget proposal on Tuesday, March 27, 2012. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 26: From left, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, arrive for the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 19: (L-R), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) confer with each other during a House Oversight Committee hearing entitled 'Reviews of the Benghazi Attack and Unanswered Questions,' in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, September 19, 2013 in Washington, DC. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is continuing to lead the GOP investigation of the Sept. 11, 2012, assaults that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 11: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks during a news conference introducing H.R.4262, 'The Control America's Purse-strings to Deliver a Better Tomorrow (CAP the DEBT) Act' on Friday, Dec. 11, 2009. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images)
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Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the Freedom Caucus chairman, said Wednesday that he backs Jordan after knowing him for six years.

"I know that he's a guy that fights for the underdog, always has," Meadows said. "And you know I've had a number of conversations with him and really at this particular point I know that if abuse allegations were brought up to him he would have been the first one to come to the defense."

Meadows said that the allegations won't disqualify Jordan from being speaker if he chooses to run for the position if Republicans retain control of the House after the November elections.

However, Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who's running for Senate, suggested that the situation does complicate Jordan's chances, though he prefaced his comment by admitting that he never viewed Jordan as a "very likely candidate for speaker to begin with."

"I don't know how it could be anything other than complicated by it. I think that's fairly obvious," he said.

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