GOP mulls adding Trump defender Jordan to impeachment panel

WASHINGTON, Nov 6 (Reuters) - U.S. Republicans may add a leading ally of President Donald Trump to the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Jim Jordan, to strengthen their defenses as the impeachment investigation against the president goes public.

An aide to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy confirmed a report by CBS News that McCarthy was eyeing making temporary adjustments to the Republican membership of the Democratic-led intelligence panel, which will begin holding public impeachment hearings next week.

Jordan, an argumentative former assistant college wrestling coach and former leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, has proven himself adept at the public defense of Trump throughout the first part of the inquiry.

He has been a near constant attendee at closed-door depositions of witnesses being conducted by the House intelligence, oversight and foreign affairs committees, talking frequently to reporters afterward and defending the president on television as well.

Democrats, who have the majority in the House, are planning for the public hearings stage of the inquiry to be conducted only by the intelligence committee, which Jordan does not currently belong to. He is the top Republican on the oversight committee.

Jordan told reporters on Wednesday that it's "up to Leader McCarthy" whether he is added to the intelligence panel. "I'm going to help no matter what," he said.

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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
Republican lawmakers, from left, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, ranking member of the Committee on Oversight Reform, and Rep. Lee Zeldin R-N.Y., appear before members of the media outside a closed door meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testifies before congressional lawmakers as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, leaves a closed door area where the ongoing House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump are conducted on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Rep. Jim Jordan (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
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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On "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday, Jordan said: "I want to help the country see the truth here, that President Trump didn't do anything wrong. And what the Democrats are doing is partisan, it's unfair and frankly, it's ridiculous."

Democrats in the House launched an impeachment investigation after an intelligence official made a whistleblower complaint about a July 25 telephone call in which Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate political rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Republican Trump has denied wrongdoing and accused Democrats of unfairly targeting him in hope of reversing his surprise victory in the 2016 presidential election.

Jordan's presence on the intelligence committee could greatly increase the drama at public hearings.

Jordan says the Democratic chairman of the intelligence panel, Representative Adam Schiff, should have to answer questions about his staff's early contacts with the whistleblower. (additional reporting by Richard Cowan) Editing by Ross Colvin and Bill Berkrot)

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