In a recent television interview, outgoing congressman Trey Gowdy made a statement that spoke to his personal character.
Speaking with CBS’ “Face the Nation” for an interview that aired Sunday, Gowdy — who shocked the public when he announced he would not be seeking re-election this year — explained why he is leaving Congress and returning to his previous career.
“I enjoy the justice system more; I enjoy being fair; I enjoy the pursuit of fairness as a virtue and I’m just more comfortable in that system,” Gowdy, a former prosecutor, replied when asked why he is choosing to leave Capitol Hill.
In a prepared statement, Gowdy revealed last month that he would not be seeking re-election in South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District, where he has served as a U.S. representative since 2011.
Prior to joining Congress, he led a storied career in the legal field. Gowdy had been appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney in 1994 and won the election for 7th Circuit Solicitor in 2000. He was also very successful in private practice.
The Republican lawmaker is aching to go back to the courtroom.
“My wife hates it when I say this but I was a pretty good prosecutor, I think. But I’ve been a pretty lousy politician. So, I’ve done it for seven years. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to do it, but it’s time for me to — whatever time I’ve got left, I want to spend it in the justice system because that’s where my heart is,” he said.
When asked by host Margaret Brennan what he means when he describes himself as a “lousy politician,” Gowdy gave an answer that appeared truly heartfelt.
“The fact that someone disagrees with me does not make me challenge their love of the country, it doesn’t make me believe that they are corrupt. I’ve got a lot of friends on the other side of the aisle — we disagree on this issue, but I don’t question their love for the country, and … I don’t think the end justifies the means,” he explained.
“And in politics too often, winning is the only thing that matters. Look, every hero I have has lost. Every one of them. So losing is not the worst thing in the world. Not knowing what you believe and not caring enough about it, to fight for it — that’s the worst thing in the world.”
While his retirement announcement came as a shock to many outside of Washington, D.C., those who personally know Gowdy say they aren’t surprised. Tired of the gridlock in Congress and longing for a return to the courtroom, he had long told colleagues he wished to leave.
Aside from his retirement plans, Gowdy appeared on CBS to discuss the release of the GOP memo and what it says about the members of the FBI who obtained a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.
The Republican lawmaker argued that the warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page would have never been granted without the existence of the controversial “Steele dossier” funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
“I have real questions about the process the bureau went through in 2016,” Gowdy said, pointing out where he disagrees with FBI Director Christopher Wray, someone he greatly admires, but who vehemently opposed the release of the GOP memo.
“I also hope that it’s a one-off that a FISA application contains errors and product that is funded by a political opponent. I hope that’s a one-off,” the congressman explained.
He was very clear in adding that he believed the vast majority of those in the FBI are superb employees, and that only the integrity of a select few involved in the FISA warrant application are in question.
Gowdy is the only GOP member of the House Intelligence Committee to have viewed the FISA application in its entirety. He has played an integral role in exposing what many in the GOP are arguing was abuse and bias by the FBI and the Department of Justice.
On Friday, Republican members on the committee released a long-awaited memo detailing impropriety in how the surveillance warrant, which depended heavily on information gathered from partisan entities, was granted.
When asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court for permission to spy on Page, the FBI presented information gathered from Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm hired by the Democratic Party and Clinton’s campaign team to find damaging information on Trump amid the 2016 election.
The information compiled in the dossier — much of which has since been debunked — was gathered by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who was openly opposed to Trump’s candidacy.
The memo reveals that not only did the FBI rely on this partisan information, but it also did not tell the FISA court that it was relying on the dossier. Additionally, the FBI pointed to news reports regarding alleged Trump-Russia collusion. However, these headlines were the result of dossier leaks made by Steele.
The entire process, Gowdy argued, reeks of abuse.
“It’s both the Steele dossier, and who paid for it, and whether or not it was vetted, but it’s also what was not in it. This is an application to a court,” he said.
“So I get that Adam Schiff and others are worried about what’s not in my memo. I wish they were equally concerned about what’s not in the FISA application — which is a lot of important information of the source and its sub-sources, and the fact that he was hired by the DNC and the Clinton campaign and the fact that he was biased against President Trump.”
When asked by Brennan if the warrant would have been authorized if not for the dossier, Gowdy answered no, it would not have been. However, Brennan pushed back on this answer, pointing out that the warrant was authorized four times by separate judges.
The Republican congressman had a concise response to this much-used Democrat talking point.
“The information was in there all four times. The judge doesn’t do independent research so it’s up to the Department of Justice to tell the judge, ‘By the way, we have learned that Chris Steele told Bruce Ohr that he would do anything to keep President Trump from winning. By the way, we need to let you know Chris Steele has been dismissed as a source for the FBI,'” he said.
Questionable details on how the FBI was able to obtain a surveillance warrant have been made public since the release of the memo, something Trump has touted as proof that the ongoing investigation into his campaign is motivated by partisan elements.
To be sure, Gowdy also stated on CBS that there would be a collusion investigation regardless of the dossier, pointing to other instances during the election that warrant review.
“I actually don’t think it has any impact on the Russia probe,” he said.
“There is a Russia investigation without a dossier. So to the extent that the memo deals with dossier and FISA process, the dossier has nothing to do with the meeting at Trump Tower, the dossier has nothing to do with an email sent by Cambridge Analytica, the dossier really has nothing to do with George Papadopoulos meeting in Great Britain.”
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