Republicans battle to defend Trump from threat of impeachment

The audition to become President Donald Trump’s most visible defender in Congress — and lead the fight against any impeachment proceedings — is in full swing.

One of Trump’s fiercest allies, Rep. Jim Jordan, on Friday began flirting openly with a bid to serve as the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, the panel where a flood of Democratic-led investigations, and potential impeachment, will begin.

“We’re still looking at it,” the Ohio Republican said when asked whether he would run for the post. “I’ve always been one who’s going to fight to get the truth out no matter what role I have. So we’ll just wait and see.”

Republicans’ pick will be critical for Trump and his party. The new House Democratic majority has detailed a long list of targets for investigation, from Trump’s business entanglements to his decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey. Even after Republicans were routed in the midterms, GOP leaders are vowing to aggressively defend against Democratic probes, which they’ve labeled “presidential harassment.”

The top slot on the Judiciary Committee also comes with a powerful policy portfolio. The committee has jurisdiction over immigration, gun control and abortion, as well as oversight of the Justice Department and FBI. But with Capitol Hill polarized over the president, the next ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee will likely be spending more time fighting for Trump than legislating with Democrats. It’s a reality that is already coloring the jockeying for the job.

Trump, in fact, has already given Jordan a boost — calling incoming GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and urging him to ensure Jordan, a longtime McCarthy adversary, got a top committee post next year. That led to whispers and speculation that Trump wanted Jordan in the Judiciary slot, though Trump has declined to explicitly endorse him.

“I would like to see Jim in a high position ’cause he deserves it,” Trump told the Daily Caller on Wednesday. “He’s fantastic, but I haven’t gotten into the endorsement or not.”

Jordan’s interest in the role has scrambled the calculus for the other GOP lawmakers eyeing the job, including Rep. Doug Collins, who’s widely perceived as the front-runner.

Collins has spent a year maneuvering meticulously to become the lead Republican on the committee. The affable Georgian has crisscrossed the country fundraising for colleagues, forged relationships with Republicans in House leadership and showcased his legislative chops by partnering with Democrats to advance high-profile legislation.

But since Election Day, when rumors of Jordan’s interest in the position began to surface, Collins has taken pains to emphasize all the ways he’s backed up Trump in investigations and on the House floor over the last two years.

Collins’ allies note that he has taken on the Justice Department over GOP allegations that senior officials were biased against Trump — an issue Jordan has championed for a year. And Collins himself says that even as he considers ways to collaborate with Democrats, he’ll relish the chance to beat back any “overreach” in their investigations of the president.

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