With Trey Gowdy as the new head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the public can expect to see the committee veering away from its investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election to focus on less controversial but important issues. The move will draw a strong contrast from Gowdy’s predecessor’s aggressive approach.
The South Carolina Republican and former prosecutor believes the special counsel or other congressional committees should handle most of the supposed Russian meddling probe. Gowdy would rather have the Oversight Committee focus on less controversial but still important issues such as overseeing the Census and National Archives.
Gowdy also said he’ll take things on a case-by-case basis when asked by reporters if he would continue some of the outstanding inquiries former chair, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is leaving behind including several requests to the White House for documents linked to the Russia investigations. Chaffetz announced his retirement in April and Republicans chose Gowdy to take over as committee chairman.
Democrats on the House Oversight Committee have requested the White House through a letter for information about the security clearances for President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner, his adviser, and son-in-law. Democrats are demanding to know why Flynn and Kushner did not have their security clearance suspended after allegations came out that they had previously unreported contacts with Russian officials.
Gowdy said such a request is not within the Oversight’s purview. He said: “Allegations of criminal or quasi-criminal activity are squarely in (Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s) jurisdiction.” Gowdy has also said he had informed the committee’s top Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md, of this view.
Mueller was selected to lead an investigation into the alleged Russian influence in the 2016 election, separate from the various congressional committees which are also probing the matter. Gowdy is also a member of the House Intelligence Committee and has a leading role in that committee's investigation.
Gowdy also suggested that the House Judiciary Committee would have jurisdiction over some elements of the Russia investigation, but that committee has not been actively involved.
Gowdy said. “I told Bob Mueller Tuesday that I would never do anything wittingly or unwittingly that veered over into his lane and his lane is broad and it is undetermined at this point,” Gowdy emphasized that he does not want to impact Mueller’s investigation.
Gowdy is also a former contender for the FBI Director post after its former chief James Comey was fired by Trump. Gowdy begged off from the running, even as many Republican allies and other political observers said he is the perfect guy for the job as they hailed his achievements and qualities.