House Republicans announced Congressman Jim Jordan as an addition to the House Intelligence Committee, replacing Congressman Rick Crawford. The pugilistic Jordan, a former wrestling coach known for his avoidance of suit jackets, has been a strong defender of President Trump as the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee and a prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Republican leaders in the House are hoping that Jordan can bring his combative questioning style to the first open hearings in the impeachment inquiry held by the Intelligence Committee next week. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has sole discretion over Intelligence Committee assignments.
In a statement, McConnell said Crawford was an "exemplary member of the House Intelligence Committee" who had "offered to step aside."
"Along with millions of Americans across the country who are frustrated with this impeachment-obsessed majority, Rick has offered to step aside for this charade. When it is finished, Rick will rejoin the committee and resume his work to keep our country safe," McCarthy said.
Crawford said on Twitter that Jordan would "add critical bandwidth and legal expertise to the House Intelligence Committee during these upcoming public hearings."
"I look forward to rejoining my colleagues on HPSCI when this impeachment hoax has concluded and we return to the important work and oversight of the Intelligence Community that the committee is intended for," Crawford said.
Jordan's appointment may be seen as undermining Congressman Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee. While Nunes has attended some of the closed-door depositions, he has less experience running high-profile investigations and keeps a lower media profile. Republicans may see Jordan as a better counterpart to Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who often appears on cable news and speaks to reporters to explain the Democratic position on impeachment.
"Democrats have turned the Intelligence Committee into an impeachment committee," a senior Republican aide told CBS News earlier this week. "We are interested in putting together the best team."
The transcripts of the depositions released so far show that Jordan has already been an active participant in the questioning of the witnesses.
"To defend this president, you have to live in his alternative universe," a Democratic lawmaker who has attended the depositions told CBS News. The lawmaker stressed that Nunes has only attended a short portion of each deposition "to b--ch about this and then he leaves."
On the first day of the open hearings next week, the committee will hear from Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent on Wednesday, November 13. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify before the committee two days later.
Nancy Cordes, Major Garrett and Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report
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