Donald Trump is reportedly set to bestow the presidential medal of freedom, the highest US civilian honour, on Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan, Republican allies in Congress who supported him in the Russia investigation, his impeachment and other Washington controversies.
Citing “someone familiar with the plans”, the Washington Post reported that Trump, who will leave office on 20 January, had settled on giving the medal to Nunes, a former chair of the House intelligence committee. Other outlets confirmed the report.
Nunes was a loyal ally during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and links between Trump and Moscow.
He rejected intelligence community findings, promoted conspiracy theories and, in March 2017, made what his Democratic counterpart Adam Schiff called an “extraordinary and peculiar midnight run” to the White House to view specially provided intelligence material.
The congressman also famously mounted a lawsuit over the activities of Twitter accounts entitled “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and “Devin Nunes’ Cow”.
In November 2018, Trump had said Nunes, a former California dairy farmer should be given the Medal of Honour – an error, as that medal is awarded for military valour. Trump told Fox & Friends: “What he’s gone through, and his bravery, he should get a very important medal.” Apparently realising his mistake, he added: “Maybe we’ll call it the Medal of Freedom because we actually give them, the high awards for civilians.”
The Post said Jordan was also likely to be honoured, although plans were not as advanced as in Nunes’ case. Jordan is a former wrestling coach who has been accused of ignoring sexual abuse of athletes by a team doctor at Ohio State, a charge he denies.
Like most presidents, Trump has bestowed the presidential medal on allies, loyalists and donors. Perhaps his most controversial award was to Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk radio host who was honoured last year.