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Trump awarding Medal of Freedom to allies Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan

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Posted at 1:51 PM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 15:51:09-05

President Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to GOP Congressman Devin Nunes of California, one of his staunchest allies on Capitol Hill, during a private ceremony at the White House on Monday. The president is also expected to award the medal to Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, multiple sources confirmed to CBS News.

The award is the nation's highest civilian honor and is bestowed on people "who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors," according to the White House.

Nunes and Jordan have been two of Mr. Trump's most vocal supporters in Congress, defending the president during the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and throughout the impeachment proceedings last year. Nunes received the award at the White House on Monday, the White House said, while Jordan will be given the Medal of Freedom next week, two sources confirmed to CBS News.

In an announcement that Mr. Trump would present Nunes with the award, the White House claimed that the California Republican unearthed "the crimes of the century" and praised him as a "public servant of unmatched talent, unassailable integrity, and unwavering resolve."

"He uncovered the greatest scandal in American history," the White House said.

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes' majority staff wrote a controversial memo in 2018 alleging the FBI and Justice Department improperly spied on Trump's associates and harbored an anti-Trump bias. He has also claimed members of Mr. Trump's transition team were improperly "unmasked" by members of the intelligence community during the Obama administration.

Mr. Trump erroneously suggested in an interview with "Fox & Friends" in 2018 that Nunes should receive the Medal of Honor for his response to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Medal of Honor is the country's highest military decoration.

"Congressman Nunes pursued the Russia Hoax at great personal risk and never stopped standing up for the truth," the White House said Monday of his handling of the Russia probe. "He had the fortitude to take on the media, the FBI, the Intelligence Community, the Democrat Party, foreign spies, and the full power of the Deep State. Devin paid a price for his courage."

Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, accused Democrats of launching politically-charged investigations designed to undermine Mr. Trump's presidency and suggested the FBI and Justice Department during the Obama administration engaged in misconduct. The Ohio Republican led the team of GOP lawmakers who defended Mr. Trump during the impeachment trial held by the Senate last year, after which he was acquitted on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Across his presidency, Mr. Trump has awarded the Medal of Freedom to a bevy of sports figures, as well as his political backers, including Miriam Adelson, wife of GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and famed golfer Tiger Woods.

Lou Holtz, the Hall of Fame college football coach who delivered remarks in support of Mr. Trump at the Republican National Convention in August, received the award from the president last month.