When Senator Al Franken was accused last year of sexual misconduct, his harshest critics were fellow Democratic senators. In a Facebook post, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said of her colleague that “it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve.” A Democratic deluge followed, and Franken reluctantly resigned.
US Representative Jim Jordan doesn’t need to fret over a similar response from Republicans.
Jordan is accused of ignoring sexual misconduct at Ohio State University, where he was an assistant wrestling coach for eight years. So far, seven former wrestlers have alleged that they were sexually assaulted or molested by Richard Strauss, the former team doctor. Strauss died in 2005.
Jordan is also one of three former university officials recently named in a class-action lawsuit on behalf of an unnamed former Ohio State wrestler.
Echoing a familiar Republican lament, Jordan has dismissed the allegations as “fake news.” He called CNN “desperate” for “contacting all 100+ of our former staff and interns asking for dirt on me.” (It’s called reporting, congressman.) Meanwhile Republican proxies are disparaging Jordan’s accusers, claiming they’re part of a “deep state” conspiracy and are being bankrolled by Jordan’s enemies across the political aisle.
The closest Republicans have come to criticizing Jordan is House Speaker Paul Ryan calling the allegations “serious,” while also defending Jordan as “a man of honesty and a man of integrity.”
No such compliments were uttered by the GOP last fall when Franken landed in the #MeToo crosshairs. President Trump mocked him on Twitter. Commenting on a photo in which Franken pretended to grope a sleeping woman, Trump speculated on whether Franken did even more.
Not so with Jordan, an ardent Trump supporter whose name has been floated as the next House speaker. “I believe him 100 percent,” the president told reporters earlier this month. As for Jordan’s accusers, he said, “I don’t believe them at all.”
Given that Trump has been accused by 19 women of sexual misconduct, it’s not surprising that he doesn’t believe Jordan’s accusers. Nor did multiple serious allegations last year against Roy Moore, then running for a Senate seat, keep Trump from endorsing the disgraced former Alabama judge.
For Republicans, sexual assault allegations are only valid when leveled against Democrats. When one of their own is under fire, GOP legislators line up to attack the credibility of accusers. Circumspection is one thing, but when it comes to sexual misconduct allegations, Republicans are echoing the hypocrisy of Trump.