Aftershock: Trey Gowdy Is Bailing for the Most Amazing (and Understandable) Reasons

He’s one of the more straightforward, straight-shooting Republicans in Congress.

He’d rather be home with his wife, watching Hallmark movies.

That’s how much Trey Gowdy has come to loathe the partisan politics of Washington.


No, seriously. It would have to be awful to prefer Hallmark movies (with all apologies to my colleagues who actually like those things).

The news today that South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy would not seek a fifth term has shocked many, who felt that the fiery congressman’s trajectory was leading straight to the Justice Department, or some judgeship.

As it now appears, not only is that not where he’s going, but he wants out of politics, altogether.

From his announcement:

“Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system,” the South Carolina Republican said.

Politics is a nasty, depressing business.

White House counsel Don McGahn in recent weeks broached Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, about filling a slot on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals — a newly vacated judgeship that Gowdy has eyed before, according to sources close to Gowdy. His fellow Palmetto State Republicans, Scott and Sen. Lindsey Graham, also urged him to accept the post.

And this is where many thought he was going, when his announcement first broke.

Even that, however, was not what he wanted.

“There is more civility in a death penalty case than there is in some congressional hearings,” Gowdy, who has won seven death penalty cases, recently told POLITICO.

Gowdy will become the eighth current chairman to depart Congress, but his decision is an extra blow to Speaker Paul Ryan, who often seeks Gowdy’s counsel on legal matters. Most recently, Gowdy has advised the Wisconsin Republican on how to navigate the increasingly partisan Russia investigation into President Donald Trump — and how to balance the GOP conference’s demand for scalps at the FBI.


Apparently, Gowdy never developed a taste for the D.C. life.

But to anyone who knew the 53-year-old former House Benghazi Committee Chairman, the retirement is hardly a surprise. Gowdy rarely participated in House GOP events, rarely attending the weekly GOP conference, for example. He often talked privately about resenting the increasingly partisan atmosphere. And he loved to say that he wished he was home watching cheesy Hallmark movies with his wife.

See? It must have been awful for him.

Gowdy has had some of the more clip-worthy moments of questioning in his various committee roles.

Former House Speaker John Boehner appointed him to lead the House Benghazi Committee, and even though his questioning was tough, he still caught criticism from both sides of the aisle.

Gowdy was pummeled from the left and the right for his investigation: Democrats blasted him for overseeing a partisan “witch-hunt” against then-presidential candidate Hilary Clinton and conservatives — including his once-good friend Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — snarled that he’d let Clinton off the hook.

Trump also knocked Gowdy for refusing to hold Clinton’s feet to the fire, calling him the “Benghazi loser.” Gowdy, however, said his investigation wasn’t going to make assumptions he couldn’t prove.


Reportedly, even though Gowdy gave his support to Florida Senator Marco Rubio during the primary season, he expected that he would be considered for the attorney general position, given his legal background and reputation.

He never even got an interview for the position.

Trump demands loyalty.

Working with the House Oversight and House Intelligence committees, Gowdy has also been involved with the ongoing Russia probe.

It’s another area where he’s found himself at odds with his colleagues.

Gowdy has found himself butting heads in recent months with Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and other pro-Trump Republicans who have hinted at corruption at the FBI. He’s expressed concerns about anti-Trump texts by some FBI officials, and he has said on TV that Congress has a duty to oversee the agency. But behind the scenes he’s had to rein in some of his conservative colleagues who want to undercut the entirety of the Justice Department, which he views as essential to American life.

I agree with him. It’s a dangerous, un-American game they’re playing all in service to a man. Somebody should inform Nunes and his ilk that we left kings behind awhile back, for a reason.

So Gowdy is getting out. He’s going to let the riff-raff scramble and deal with this ugly age of Trumpism we’re now in, without him.


Of the names being floated to take his place, there are state Reps. Dan Hamilton and Garry Smith, along with businesswoman and former South Carolina GOP party chairwoman Karen Floyd.

Also, talk radio host, Spartanburg County Republican chairman, and RedState front pager, Josh Kimbrell (my buddy) announced his intentions to toss his hat in the ring, in order to “keep the 4th District on the national stage in the conservative fight.”

Big shoes to fill, for whoever may take the seat.


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