Just six and a half years ago, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan was plotting a Freedom Caucus response after Republican leadership stripped then-North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows of a subcommittee chairmanship as retaliation for opposing a trade deal. In January 2021, then-President Donald Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Jordan chronicles the evolution from being a nuisance to Republican leadership to a leader in his party and a prime target for Democrats in Do What You Said You Would Do: Fighting for Freedom in the Swamp, his first political memoir.
Now, Jordan is one of the most notable and influential Republicans in the House with his eye on becoming chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee should his party win the House in 2022. The most recent evidence of his importance was the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol requesting, three days before Christmas, that Jordan appear before the panel to answer questions.
Like many books written by politicians, Jordan's includes passages articulating his core principles and a highlight reel of sorts. There are several transcripts from his notable exchanges in committee hearings, including pages of his exchange with Hillary Clinton when she appeared before the Benghazi select committee in 2015.
JIM JORDAN: ‘TRUMP DID NOTHING WRONG’ ON JAN. 6
But more than being an ideological manifesto, the book documents a political revolution in the Republican Party over the last decade from the perspective of one key House Freedom Caucus founder who helped make the Republican Party more uniformly conservative and confrontational.
“We are now a party that I think is a populist party rooted in conservative principle, which is where we always should have been,” Jordan told the Washington Examiner in an interview.
It shows an evolution, too, of Trump in how he and his administration dealt with the Freedom Caucus and how members learned to woo and influence the president. Jordan notes Trump naming him and Meadows in angry tweets because they opposed then-Speaker Paul Ryan’s Obamacare repeal plan, which failed just two months into his term.
He recalls being “for some reason” invited to a bill signing that would benefit the coal mining industry despite that not being an important issue in his district. Trump took the opportunity to compliment a Jordan appearance on CNN, prompting the Freedom Caucus to pivot to a cable news-heavy communications strategy. “We could talk to him directly through Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC,” Jordan wrote.
Jordan writes several paragraphs about the significance of choosing the word “freedom” for the caucus name. That stands in contrast to former Rep. Mick Mulvaney telling the New Yorker in 2015 that the name was chosen because it was “so generic and so universally awful that we had no reason to be against it.”
Asked about Mulvaney’s description, Jordan said there was a real debate about the name. “I think it's a good thing. We picked that term because that's what the Left is trying to destroy,” the Ohio congressman said. "We picked the word that you most associate with our country, the greatest country ever."
Even if the story is pruned for the narrative, Jordan’s book marks a milestone in Freedom Caucus history.
Meadows gave Jordan’s book a shoutout during a speech to state Republican lawmakers forming their own legislative Freedom Caucuses in mid-December — mere hours before the House voted to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress for not more fully complying with the Jan. 6 investigation. He and Jordan said they had planned to write the Freedom Caucus stories together, according to Meadows, before he became White House chief of staff under Trump.
“If you do what you said you would do when you campaigned for office, it will go well with you. It's the people who want to fake it that it’s such a hard time,” Meadows told the crowd.
Partly due to the timing of its release, the shadow of the Jan. 6 riot and the select committee investigating it hangs over Jordan’s book.
The second chapter is devoted to Jan. 6 and its aftermath, but Jordan reveals little about his personal experience leading up to and during that day, who he talked to (including Trump), or other information that the select committee would likely want to know. He articulates his reasoning for objecting to the Electoral College count and his call for hearings into “anomalies and concerns” but does not fully buy into the notion that mass fraud put President Joe Biden in the White House.
“Maybe everything was legit, but … ” begins one sentence. “When one-third of the voters believe the process is rigged, we have a big problem.”
After his book was released, the Jan. 6 committee revealed a text message sent to Meadows described as being from a “lawmaker” that outlined an argument for Vice President Mike Pence to not count electoral votes from certain states. Jordan later revealed that the message was sent by him — but it was an argument from a different lawyer that Jordan simply forwarded to Meadows, he said, and the committee admitted it “inadvertently” added a period in the excerpt it shared and cut off a full sentence.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Jordan did not directly say whether he agreed with or entertained the idea of Pence outright rejecting electoral votes. But asked whether Trump should have done anything more to call off rioters who breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, Jordan went further than he did in his book. “President Trump did nothing wrong,” he said.
Jordan prefers to focus on what’s next for House Republicans if they take back power and sets the stage for such a scenario in his book. Democrats won back the House in 2018, he writes, in part because Republicans failed to deliver on repealing Obamacare and on immigration reform.
Top priorities while Biden remains in the White House include launching Republican-led investigations into issues such as border security and U.S. funding of virus research in Wuhan, China. “Legitimate oversight,” Jordan said, “not this Jan. 6, you know, craziness.”
Unlike other rabble-rouser household names in the Freedom Caucus, Jordan earns praise from a wide ideological variety of House Republicans. After Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw ruffled feathers in early December by criticizing “grifters” in the House Republican Conference, he pointed out that he likes Jordan and doesn’t put him in the same category.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
For those wondering why House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy does not publicly condemn or punish the more inflammatory members of his caucus, Jordan’s recollection of Freedom Caucus fights with former Republican Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan helps explain the dynamic. Both leaders publicly squabbled or even attacked the hard-line conservatives. Both suffered massive setbacks or were forced to resign after failing to earn or force support from the Freedom Caucus types.
Jordan has nothing but nice things to say about McCarthy, who made him the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, in the book and in interviews.
“Kevin McCarthy is, you know, the first leader to actually bring the entire team together,” Jordan said, naming various conservative and centrist factions of the Republican Party. “We have to be unified in our effort to stop where [Democrats] want to take us.”