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Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, has the toughest job in politics right now: trying to stop a Democratic "blue wave" at the polls this fall. Stivers, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, sat down to talk to CNBC's John Harwood about the campaign and other factors. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
CNBC's John Harwood: You've got a colleague in Ohio, Jim Jordan, who is accused by multiple Ohio State wrestlers that he coached of having ignored sexual abuse that they were experiencing. Why is it OK for him to remain in Congress, to be a member in good standing of the Republican caucus, to run for speaker of the House?
Rep. Steve Stivers: Well, the Ohio State University has an investigation on Dr. Strauss, who died a few years ago but is alleged to have abused many people. I'm looking forward to seeing their results. We have empathy for the victims and as I have empathy for anybody who was victimized in a sexual harassment way or a sexual assault way.
Harwood: Based on what's on the public record, and who is making the allegations, are you inclined to think that this was a real thing, a real scandal — as opposed to something that was cooked up by people who are opponents of Jim Jordan or opponents of the doctor?
Stivers: I wasn't there at the time. I want to let the facts come out. I know there have been some statements both ways. Most recently, there have been people who've made a statement, recanted a statement, so it's really hard with just anecdotal evidence to know what's going on.
Harwood: But if the allegations that the wrestlers have made are substantiated, would that be a reason for Jim Jordan to leave the Congress?
Stivers: Let's let the investigation happen and the facts come out and then we'll deal with what the facts are, as opposed to rumors. I try not to deal in hypotheticals.
Harwood: We've also had, in the Trump Cabinet and some of your colleagues in the House, some pretty big scandal issues. We've had a couple Cabinet members leave, you saw your colleague Chris Collins charged with insider trading. How significant do you think the issue of the swamp, corruption, will be in this campaign, especially given the way President Trump talked about it in his 2016 campaign?
Stivers: I don't think either party has some kind of monopoly on virtue or sin. Chaka Fattah was a Democrat, he's in jail. Corinne Brown, a Democrat, she's in jail. Ruben Kihuen, a Democrat member from Nevada, accused of sexually harassing folks and still a member of Congress.
The one thing I will say is where we've had issues inside our Republican conference, and there have been serious allegations, we've dealt with them very quickly and the people have moved on and moved aside.
Harwood: That hasn't happened with Jordan.
Stivers: It's about facts, and there have been facts in most of these others.
Harwood: Right, but you said "serious allegations."
Stivers: That's fair, I should have said "facts," because in a lot of these, there are facts.