Newly appointed chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Trey Gowdy (R – S.C.), said Friday the committee will not insist upon calling former FBI director James Comey, before the committee or demand Comey’s memos documenting his interactions with Donald Trump that became a topic of contention in recent weeks.
This indicates Gowdy has no plans to continue pursuing the inquiry into Russia’s actions in 2016 in an attempt to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump, whether any collusion took place between the Trump campaign and Moscow or if Trump attempted to obstruct justice through his dealing with Comey.
This may seem like bad faith at worst, but in reality is simply bad optics for anyone who doesn’t read beyond a headline. Gowdy is interested in the investigation continuing, but not through Oversight. He stated his justification simply,
“I told Bob Mueller Tuesday that I would never do anything wittingly or unwittingly that veered over into his lane,” Gowdy said in an interview with a handful of reporters in the Oversight panel’s cavernous hearing room. “His lane is broad and is undetermined at this point.”
Gowdy went on to explain that Oversight simply isn’t the appropriate committee to investigate at this point, particularly in light of the fact that a special counsel has been appointed in Robert Mueller.
The memos “are in the jurisdiction of Bob Mueller, first and foremost. Secondarily Judiciary [Committee], because it has jurisdiction over the Department of Justice and the FBI,” Gowdy explained.
“To the extent that any of those memos are classified, that would be HPSCI,” he added, referring to the House Intelligence Committee.
However, Gowdy did say that one area is in the purview of the House Oversight Committee that is tied up in the Russia probe; that of the process of security clearance for individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign and administration, including Mike Flynn and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Gowdy pulling Oversight back from the Russia probe following the departure of Rep. Jason Chaffetz, while being sold as “Trump-supporting Republican representative canceling Russia probe because Trump,” in reality is Gowdy attempting to stay out of the special counsel and intelligence committee’s way while they continue the investigation.
It’s worth mentioning that as a “government oversight” committee, Gowdy would be hard pressed to justify investigating beyond what the committee had under Chaffetz for the simple fact that the Trump campaign wasn’t a government entity at the time.
Next week, the Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on criminal justice reform. An issue that clearly fits in its purview and also sorely in need of attention. This serves the American people far better than a superfluous investigation into Russia.