House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said his decision to add Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to the House Intelligence Committee ahead of the upcoming impeachment hearings was to add a foil to the committee’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff of California.
“Jim Jordan has been in all these depositions and been part of it,” McCarthy said during an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” “But [Adam Schiff] is trying to control everything.”
McCarthy announced on Friday that Jordan, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee and a staunch defender of President Trump, would temporarily replace Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., for the duration of the hearings.
“Jim Jordan has been on the front lines in the fight for fairness and truth. His addition will ensure more accountability and transparency in this sham process," McCarthy said in a statement on Friday.
Under current terms, Jordan, as the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, has been in the room for most closed-door depositions. Because he is not a member of the Intelligence Committee, though, the Ohio Republican cannot ask questions.
A senior House Democratic aide tells Fox News that Democrats allowed the personnel shift because “it is customary that whoever the minority proposes is accepted.”
Jordan would not have been on the dais during open hearings this week to counterpunch. Republican leadership all week had been weighing the Jordan move, and considering adding Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., as well. But in order to position Jordan on the panel, Republican leadership is required to remove one of the current Republicans on the panel. Removing three, to also include Meadows and Zeldin, would be somewhat of a feat.
The assignment comes just days before the first open hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry.
On Wednesday, Schiff announced that the first public hearings as part of the inquiry would be held next Wednesday and Friday, featuring current and former officials with knowledge of the Ukraine controversy.
The first public hearing will feature Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who already testified behind closed doors before congressional investigators that the president pushed Ukraine to investigate election interference, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and their Ukrainian dealings — and that he was told U.S. military aid and a White House meeting were used as leverage to get a public announcement from Kiev that the probes were underway.
Kent, the deputy assistant Secretary of State, also will appear with Taylor. Kent testified behind closed doors last month, and told the committees that he had concerns about Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Ukrainian natural gas firm, Burisma Holdings, in 2015, but was rebuffed by the former vice president’s staff, which said the office was preoccupied with Beau Biden’s cancer battle.
Meanwhile, next Friday, Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, will appear in a public setting. She testified last month behind closed doors as well, telling lawmakers that Ukraine told her about Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s campaign to oust her from her post in the administration. Yovanovitch was pushed out of her job in May on Trump’s orders.
Yovanovitch said she learned from Ukrainian officials last November or December that Giuliani was in touch with Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, “and that they had plans, and that they were going to, you know, do things, including to me.”
The impeachment inquiry was opened after a whistleblower complaint alleged that Trump, during a July phone call, pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter as military aid to the country was being withheld.
A transcript released by the White House shows Trump making that request, but he and his allies deny that military aid was clearly linked to the request or that there was any quid pro quo. Some witnesses coming before House committees as part of the impeachment proceedings have challenged that assertion.
The White House, though, has maintained the president did nothing wrong.
The House of Representatives, last week, passed a measure largely along party lines, formalizing the process and setting “ground rules” for the impeachment inquiry, including for public witness testimony.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.