When Jim Jordan suddenly flip flopped this past weekend and decided not to cooperate with the January 6th Committee, it raised something of a quandary. Presuming the committee decides to formally subpoena Jordan and he still refuses to cooperate, should it refer him to the DOJ for criminal contempt?
Optics come into play, as such a criminal referral could hand House Republicans a major (if 100% disingenuous) talking point about Democratic Party “partisanship” heading into the midterms. But we nonetheless argued that the committee should go ahead and ring Jordan up for contempt, because it’s the legally correct thing to do. Sure enough, it now appears that’s on track to happen.
Steny Hoyer, the number two ranking House Democrat behind only Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has announced that he believes the January 6th Committee should in fact refer Jordan and other non-cooperative members of Congress for criminal contempt. Hoyer doesn’t run the January 6th Committee. But it’s almost impossible to imagine that the House Democrats who do run the committee will defy Hoyer on this, given that he outranks them. And of course Hoyer wouldn’t have publicly said something like this unless he had Pelosi’s backing.
So now we’re looking at a high likelihood that Jim Jordan and other non-cooperating House Republicans will end up referred to the DOJ for criminal contempt. If the DOJ sticks with the precedent it created on the Steve Bannon referral, then we’d indeed be looking at criminal charges for the likes of Jordan, and prison time if they’re convicted at trial.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report