Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who has willingly peddled conspiracies and lies as one of President Donald Trump’s staunchest defenders in Congress, is being rewarded for his loyalty on Monday with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The award, the top US civilian honor, is handed out at the discretion of the commander in chief in recognition of “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Previous recipients include Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, and Walt Disney.
Trump’s decision to bestow the prestigious honor on Jordan — a hyperpartisan who worked to undermine the impeachment proceedings in 2019 and then pivoted to spreading lies about the 2020 election, only to express shock when these lies helped incite a deadly insurrection at the Capitol — continues a pattern of the outgoing president rewarding his allies with medals or pardons during his final weeks in office.
Since losing the election to Joe Biden (and while refusing to concede defeat), Trump has also awarded the Medal of Freedom to Rep. Devin Nunes, another loyalist in Congress, while issuing presidential pardons to his associates who had been convicted of crimes, including Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner’s father, former representatives Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, and George Papadopoulos, among others. There is speculation that before leaving office he may issue preemptive pardons for his children, attorney Rudy Giuliani, and perhaps even himself.
In a statement, the White House highlighted Jordan's work investigating the IRS and the 2012 Benghazi attack, as well as his efforts to "unmask the Russia hoax and take on Deep State corruption."
"He is an inspiration to freedom-loving Americans everywhere and has distinguished himself as one of the most consequential members of Congress of his generation," said the White House statement.
Although he has represented his district in northwest Ohio since 2007, Jordan achieved national prominence during Trump’s term in the White House thanks to his seemingly endless willingness to defend any and all behavior from the president. That reputation caused Republicans to move him temporarily to the Intelligence Committee during the House’s impeachment investigation so he could act as an attack dog on the president’s behalf. Often appearing without a suit jacket and with his sleeves rolled up, Jordan held the position of chief Trump defender during the impeachment proceedings, during which he asked pugnacious and combative questions of witnesses. His star turn drew him further into Trump’s circle.
In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Jordan has also been parroting the president’s lies about ballot integrity and poll watchers in Pennsylvania. He was one of 126 House Republicans who unsuccessfully called on the Supreme Court to allow Texas to try to invalidate Biden’s wins in several swing states.
Following the coup attempt, Jordan has pivoted to defending Trump against a second likely impeachment by calling for unity.
Jordan has also faced questions about whether he knew of sexual assault allegations against a doctor at Ohio State University while he worked as a wrestling coach there in the 1980s and ’90s. More than 100 former students alleged sexual misconduct by Richard Strauss, who killed himself in 2005. A 2019 report found no such evidence that Jordan knew of the abuse, but six former wrestlers told CNN last year that the lawmaker had been aware of the complaints but did nothing to stop it. Jordan has denied the allegations.