Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) has always been a bit of a Boy Scout. You might not agree with him, but it is hard to deny that he’s at least presented himself as a hard-nosed, straight-edged idealist about the law and, in particular, about law and order. It certainly fits the profile of a former Federal Prosecutor who, according to Wikipedia, once won “the Postal Inspector’s Award for the successful prosecution of J. Mark Allen, one of ‘America’s Most Wanted’ suspects.”
And that same kind of half-naive eager-beaverness came through each time he cross-examined those called to testify at a Congressional hearing. He’d entreat them with that unmistakable and wholly self-conscious baritone like a Eagle Scout looking for another merit badge he didn’t really need. It probably also accounts for the comically-slicked hairdo that seemed to lurk uncomfortably over his boyish, Junior G-Man face.
However, he has often been far too eager for his own good … as evidenced by his botched Benghazi snipe hunt. There actually was something fishy that night in Libya … but the real trail led back to the CIA and Gen. David Petraeus … not to Hillary Clinton. Instead of real oversight, though, Gowdy took the obvious target of opportunity and, I suspect, bent a bit to the pressure of the GOP conference and the exigencies of looming presidential politics. He may even have sipped a little of his own Junior G-Man Kool-Aid. Either way, he was ultimately chastened by that bitter cocktail of politics and hubris when Hillary effortlessly fielded a day’s worth of flaccid questions and made the GOP look like bunch of tail-chasing boobs.
Now we have a set of new scandals and, thanks to recently-retired Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Gowdy finds himself right back in the middle of a mess. When Chaffetz fled, Gowdy took over as Chair of the House Oversight Committee and inherited both Russiagate and what has now become Release-The-Memo-gate.
Interestingly enough, Gowdy has said a number of Mike Pompeo-like things about Russian “meddling” and is on the record about the need for Mueller to finish his investigation unimpeded. Like Pompeo, a former GOP Representative and current CIA chief, Gowdy is not happy about alleged Russian activities. But they also have a GOP Conference that is married to Trump and is trying to wring everything they can out of his Presidency before November. They are stuck in the middle between their party and their commitment to traditional GOP pet projects like the CIA, the FBI and the DOJ … and, of course, the GOP’s long-time suspicion of all thing Russian.
But given the fact that Gowdy is now following Chaffetz out the door … it may be that Devin “Dogged Daze After” Nunes and his Double Super Secret Squirrel Memo is just a bridge too far. In fact, maybe Trump’s current trajectory is a bridge too far … because Politico is reporting that Gowdy recently turned down a Federal Judgeship on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals! This is a slot he’s coveted in the past … yet he turned it down when White House Counsel Don McGahn floated the idea in recent weeks.
That means that Gowdy’s departure was in the works (or, at least, rumored) for some time and, more importantly, it means that the White House sought a “soft landing” for Gowdy that would obviously engender some loyalty going forward.
In other words, as the White House prepared to unleash the memo, to continue its purge of the FBI and DOJ and, perhaps, to ditch Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein on the way to a Mueller showdown … they sought a way to bring Gowdy into the fold by making him beholden to Trump through his rumored dream job as a judge.
That scenario is made more viable given the newly-released transcript of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s deliberations on the infamous Nunes memo … in which Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) states that only he and the Committee’s Chairman (Gowdy) had read the underlying materials upon which Nunes’ staff postulated its conclusion that the FBI abused the FISA warrant process to surveil the amazingly talkative goofball Carter Page.
Then … the day after a hot mic picks up Trump telling a GOP Representative that it’s “100%” certain that the memo will be released after phony White House deliberations… and the same day its reported that Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Administration he strongly opposes the release … and the same day the aforementioned transcript is released … Gowdy announces he is not running for reelection in the blood-red, Trump-supporting 4th Congressional district in South Carolina.
Coincidence? Is it really just about Gowdy growing weary of partisanship? Does he just want to spend more time with his family? Or could it be that, as Schiff’s comment indicates, Gowdy knows exactly what the memo’s claims are based on? And could it be that he knows Nunes is peddling some thin gruel … and that he sees the GOP speciously attacking the very law and order that Gowdy’s inner Boy Scout holds so dear?
Could it be that Gowdy, who expressed his disdain about Washington to Politico, has actually had it with Nunes’ ham-handed spook show? Could it be that Gowdy’s internal Boy Scout doesn’t want to be tied to what is turning into a farce … one that had him crowing for three days about a “Secret Society” that turned out to be a throwaway line between two lovers? Could it be that McGahn knew of Gowdy’s trepidation and Gowdy had enough of an ethical compass to know he was being bought off?
Or could it be that Gowdy … who days earlier said he supports Special Counsel Robert Muller “100%”… sees the handwriting on the wall and in the memo … and he simply refuses to be a party to his party’s forthcoming sacrifice of Mueller on the altar of their gold-plated god?Tweet