WASHINGTON (AP) — Trey Gowdy swore he’d had sufficient of Washington. Disgusted by what he’d seen, the Republican congressman from South Carolina retired from workplace final yr, declaring his abilities are higher used “in a courtroom than in Congress.”
Now he’s coming again for impeachment.
A former prosecutor who led the House investigation into the 2012 assaults in Benghazi, Libya, Gowdy is poised to affix President Donald Trump’s authorized group, placing himself on the molten heart of the confrontation between the White House and the Democratic House over Trump’s conduct in workplace. His job, and that of Trump’s different attorneys, is to defend the president and stop GOP defections within the impeachment push, now centered on a name to Ukraine during which Trump pushed for an investigation of rival Joe Biden and his household.
A longtime buddy mentioned he was perplexed by Gowdy’s resolution.
“I honestly don’t know the rationale behind it,” mentioned Terry Sullivan, who ran Gowdy’s first congressional marketing campaign in 2010, when, as a tea occasion rebel, he ousted a Republican incumbent who had fallen out of favor with conservatives.
Gowdy, 55, is finest recognized for his dogged, two-year investigation of Hillary Clinton that accused the Obama administration of deadly errors main up the Benghazi assaults however produced no “smoking gun” pointing to wrongdoing by the previous secretary of state.
While he’s a Trump ally, Gowdy has not been among the many president’s strongest defenders. He initially endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president in 2016, and Trump later known as him a “loser” for failing to show up extra dust on Clinton within the Benghazi probe. Gowdy additionally contradicted Trump final yr, saying there’s no proof that the FBI planted a “spy” in Trump’s 2016 marketing campaign, as Trump repeatedly claimed.
“They are probably the two most different human beings in public life,” Sullivan mentioned of Trump and his latest lawyer, who will act as exterior counsel within the impeachment battle alongside Trump’s private lawyer Jay Sekulow. “Trey is a pretty darn humble, earnest, just-the-facts-ma’am kind of guy, and Donald Trump is a P.T. Barnum of modern-day politics. It’s all about him, and facts don’t matter.”
Still, Sullivan mentioned the Trump group made the proper name in hiring Gowdy, who has sturdy ties to congressional Republicans and key members of the administration and is expert at making a case on tv. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, certainly one of Trump’s strongest defenders, served alongside Gowdy throughout the Benghazi panel. Democrats have subpoenaed Pompeo and are preventing for testimony from State Department officers as they examine Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
“It’s absolutely a super smart thing for the Trump (team) to do,” Sullivan mentioned. “Trey is ridiculously smart — not only a darn good attorney but a very compelling and convincing individual.”
Trump known as Gowdy “a terrific guy” Thursday however mentioned he can’t begin his authorized work till January due to lobbying guidelines. Sekulow mentioned congressional guidelines prohibit Gowdy from coping with Congress for one yr from his departure.
Now a lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina, Gowdy has been an everyday contributor on Fox News since leaving Congress. On Wednesday, the information community introduced it had reduce ties with him.
Gowdy, who turned chairman of the House Oversight Committee after the Benghazi panel completed its work in 2016, was largely hands-off in scrutinizing the Trump administration, together with a largely dormant investigation into potential ties between Russia and Trump’s marketing campaign.
Kurt Bardella, a former GOP spokesman for the oversight panel who’s now an outspoken Trump critic, mentioned Gowdy’s return “speaks to the complete hypocrisy at play here.”
As a frequent GOP tormentor of Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder and different Obama-era officers, Gowdy was a stout defender of congressional oversight. In 2012, he declared, “The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles.”
Recalling that remark, which has been circulating in latest days on social media, Bardella mentioned he’s flabbergasted that Gowdy is “joining forces with someone who is literally taking a wrecking ball to checks and balances” by refusing to cooperate with Congress on a number of investigations, together with impeachment.
“Trump is doing exactly what (Gowdy) spent his entire tenure in Congress fighting,” Bardella mentioned. “It seems bizarre.”
The White House this week declared it won’t cooperate with the “illegitimate” impeachment probe and mentioned no extra witnesses below administration purview can be permitted to testify to Congress or adjust to doc requests.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a Gowdy buddy and Trump supporter, known as Gowdy “a welcome addition” to Trump’s authorized group.
“Trey is an accomplished prosecutor with the skills to bring a clear and articulate case to the American people,” Meadows mentioned in an e mail.
Sekulow, Trump’s longtime lawyer, mentioned he has recognized Gowdy for years and labored with him when Gowdy was in Congress.
“His legal skills and his advocacy will serve the president well. Trey’s command of the law is well known and his service on Capitol Hill will be a great asset as a member of our team,” Sekulow mentioned in a press release.
Sen. Tim Scott, fellow South Carolina Republican and Gowdy’s finest buddy on the Hill, known as Gowdy “one of the best legal minds in our country.”
Gowdy’s time as a prosecutor and member of Congress “will serve this nation as we seek the facts,” Scott mentioned in a press release. “The president has added a well-respected person, and the American people will appreciate and benefit from his integrity and competence.”
Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington and Meg Kinnard in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.