Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) did something unexpected on Wednesday morning: He announced that the House oversight committee he chairs is performing its function on a Republican presidential administration.
Specifically, Gowdy told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that the committee is investigating the Rob Porter scandal, which the White House still cannot seem to explain after a full week of changing stories.
Gowdy told Camerota he is concerned about how Porter, the former White House staff secretary, was hired and kept on for so long despite the long history of domestic abuse allegations against him.
He is also wondering how Porter managed to work in the White House for a year, handling the most sensitive documents for the president while only holding an interim security clearance, and why that clearance was not yanked when the FBI turned up the abuse accusations.
Given how deferential the Republican Congress has been toward Donald Trump since he came into office, Gowdy’s interest in investigating this story is a surprise. After all, there have been multiple reasons just in the past year to investigate this White House and this president’s conflicts of interest with regard to his businesses, finances, hiring practices and poor vetting of employees.
That Gowdy, who spent much of the Obama administration on the snipe hunt that was the Benghazi story, is taking this on now can likely be explained by some combination of the following:
- Gowdy was a prosecutor for years, and his sense of justice is genuinely riled up by Porter’s alleged abuse.
- Gowdy is not running for re-election, so he does not have to answer to a base that could be angry at him for investigating a Republican president.
- Gowdy senses that Republicans are heading for a wipeout in the midterm elections, and he is trying to mitigate his party tying itself to an enormously unpopular president.
- Gowdy actually figures that announcing an investigation by Congress will take some of the heat off the White House and help the story die down.
Whatever the reason, Camerota seemed very surprised that Gowdy has launched an investigation. Join the club, Alisyn.