Incoming House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) does not intend to investigate Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election or questions of whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice, reports Politico.
The newly-elected South Carolina Republican, who will replace outgoing chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), told a gathering of reporters Friday that he instead “wants to return the Oversight panel to its original ‘compulsory’ jurisdiction, including overseeing more mundane issues like government procurement and the Census.”
Gowdy argued that he does not want his committee to infringe on the work of special counsel Robert Mueller and claims that the Russia scandal and questions of obstruction “fall more in the jurisdiction of other committees — including the the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.”
“No. 1: It’s in the jurisdiction of Bob Mueller. And secondarily, I would think Judiciary has jurisdiction over the Department of Justice and the FBI,” he said. “To the extent that any of those memos are classified, that would be [Intelligence]. And for those that think a third committee ought to look at it, Oversight would have secondary permissive jurisdiction but it would be secondary.”
“If I would devise an inefficient way to gather facts, I don’t know that I could devise anything better than five-minute increments alternating between Republicans and Democrats,” said Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor. “That is not conducive to gathering facts.”
In short: Gone are the days of high-profile Oversight hearings lambasting executive officials caught up in scandals. Reporters, lawmakers and the public have grown accustomed to aggressive Oversight chairmen pursuing public probes, including investigations on the IRS’s tea-party targeting or the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking controversy.
Gowdy is no stranger to explosive public hearings, having led the House Select Committee on Benghazi. But he argues those previous Oversight investigations were not the committee’s main duties under House rules.
Rather, to kick off his tenure, Gowdy plans to hold hearings on criminal justice reform and the decennial Census, which is coming up.
In 2016, Rep. Gowdy presented his committee’s 800-page report on the events surrounding the September 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic outpost and a CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
His Benghazi probe, which spent nearly two years and at least $7 million, provided no new evidence of specific wrongdoing by then-Secretary of State Clinton.