Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) refused to apologize for his since-deleted tweet describing the story of a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim as a “lie,” claiming on Thursday that he was merely “responding to a headline” and took down ... once the alleged rapist was charged.
Republicans and right-wing pundits have been backtracking and pivoting after 27-year-old Gerson Fuentes was arraigned in court on Wednesday on felony charges of raping a person under 13. Court records revealed that the alleged rape of the 10-year-old girl took place on May 12, the girl’s pregnancy was then referred to local child services on June 22, and eight days later she had a medical abortion in neighboring Indiana.
The story of the unidentified child’s rape and abortion had quickly become a flashpoint in the debate over abortion rights after the Indianapolis Star reported on her plight on July 1. While right-wing media—and some mainstream journalists—cast doubt on the veracity of the report because it was single-sourced, the Star’s source was an Indiana obstetrician-gynecologist who spoke with an Ohio child-abuse doctor who’d examined the girl. (The patient was six weeks and three days pregnant, right after Ohio’s trigger law outlawed abortion after six weeks following Roe v. Wade’s reversal.)
Sharing a July 12 story from The Washington Examiner on Ohio Attorney General David Yost claiming his office hadn’t seen any evidence of the 10-year-old rape victim, Jordan tweeted: “Another lie. Anyone surprised?”
Once Fuentes’ arrest was reported on Wednesday, however, the Ohio congressman quietly deleted the tweet without any explanation. (Yost, for his part, released a statement acknowledging the arrest. He did not apologize for his bombastic comments that fueled a right-wing outrage cycle).
CNN reporter Manu Raju finally got Jordan to break his silence on his false tweet on Thursday. The MAGA lawyer did not offer up any regrets. Instead, parroting other conservatives, he pivoted to discussing Fuentes’ status as an undocumented immigrant.
“Why did you delete the tweet?” Raju asked.
“Well, because we learned this was an illegal alien that did this heinous crime,” Jordan responded. “So we deleted the tweet.”
The CNN correspondent then asked if Jordan had apologized to the girl or the family for “suggesting it was a lie,” prompting the congressman to resort to some pretzel logic.
“I never doubted the child,” he declared. “I was responding to a headline from your profession, the news profession, which happens all the time on Twitter. I doubted Joe Biden, which is usually a smart thing to do.”
While announcing his executive order last week to protect access to reproductive health care, the president referenced the Star’s report, prompting The Washington Post to publish a fact-check that raised questions about the story. That article, which has since been updated, was soon followed by the Wall Street Journal editorial board labeling the rape a “fanciful tale” and multiple Fox News segments calling the story “fake” and “not true.”