Former House Speaker John Boehner let loose a furious invective against House Freedom Caucus founder Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in an interview with Politico this week. Boehner, who abruptly resigned from Congress in 2015, said Jordan, a fellow Ohioan, “was a terrorist” who was largely responsible for Republican failures during his tenure.
In the lengthy profile at Politico, Boehner was candid about his time as speaker of the House, complaining about the dysfunction he sees. But he reserved his most venomous criticism for Jordan and other members of the Freedom Caucus. When asked whether Jordan might replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Boehner answered, “F**k Jordan… F**k Chaffetz. They’re both a**holes.”
Boehner has kept a relatively low profile since his retirement, but took the gloves off for the no holds barred interview with Politico, attacking conservative Republicans, whom he blames for derailing his policy agenda during his speakership. Conservative House members, including Jordan and Chaffetz, frequently clashed with Boehner, objecting to his pragmatic, cautious approach to legislating. Boehner preferred cutting backroom deals that tinkered around the edges of the GOP agenda, while Tea Party members wanted to go big or go home, advocating for bold measures like Cut, Cap, and Balance and pushing Boehner to shut down the government as a matter of principal.
Boehner “thought of himself as someone who was of the Tea Party mentality before the Tea Party was a thing … so I think there were some assumptions made that he got these people, and that they would see he was one of them,” says Anne Bradbury, Boehner’s former floor director. “But that really never came together.”
“He came to Congress wanting to burn it to the ground,” said Mike Sommers, Boehner’s former chief of staff. “And by the time he left, he was the ultimate institutionalist.”
Now, nearly a decade later, Boehner blames conservative members of his own party for his failures as speaker. “It’s hard to negotiate when you’re standing there naked,” he said. “It’s hard to negotiate with no di*k.”
While he told Politico that he holds no grudges against his fellow Republicans, it’s obvious that he’s still angry with Jordan. “Jordan was a terrorist as a legislator going back to his days in the Ohio House and Senate,” Boehner said. “A terrorist. A legislative terrorist.”
Jordan expressed disbelief when asked about Boehner’s epithets. “Oh, my goodness. I feel sorry for the guy if he’s that bitter about a guy coming here and doing what he told the voters he was gonna do. Wow. I feel bad for him,” Jordan said. “But in the end, we were not doing what the voters elected us to do and what we told them we were going to do. We just weren’t. And I would argue the same thing is happening now.”
But Boehner stressed that there’s an existential threat to the Republican Party — and to our two-party system.
Asked whether he think the Republican Party will survive the dysfunction, he answered, “There is no Rep—…” He stopped mid-sentence to correct himself. There is still a Republican Party, he explained. “But what does it even mean? Donald Trump’s not a Republican. He’s not a Democrat. He’s a populist. He doesn’t have an ideological bone in his body.” Asked who the leader of the GOP is, Boehner shrugged, “There is nobody.”