Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) intended to use his chairmanship of the House Oversight Committee to great effect in this Congress, right up until he decided to walk away from his job a year and a half early. The reasons for the Utah Republican’s dramatic change of heart have never been fully explained.
Nevertheless, Chaffetz’s departure – his last day is June 30 – created a new opportunity for another House Republican to become the chair of a powerful and high-profile committee. Yesterday, as the Washington Post reported, GOP leaders officially announced Chaffetz’s successor.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) is set to take over as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a post that carries broad authority to investigate President Trump and the executive branch.
The House Republican Steering Committee voted Thursday to hand the gavel to Gowdy, according to statements issued by Gowdy and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).
If Gowdy’s name sounds familiar, it may be because Donald Trump recently considered him to serve as the new director of the FBI – before the South Carolina congressman withdrew from consideration.
Or maybe you know Gowdy for that other thing he’s famous for.
As regular readers know, House Republicans tasked Gowdy, a former state and federal prosecutor, with leading their special Benghazi committee, asking Gowdy to undercover information the other six congressional committees that investigated Benghazi may have overlooked.
It was, of course, a disaster. Gowdy’s Benghazi panel spent millions of taxpayer dollars chasing down bizarre conspiracy theories, asking questions that had already been answered, and pulling together evidence that had already been exhaustively reviewed.
The result was a committee that was needlessly partisan, needlessly secretive, and ultimately pointless. Even Republicans who hoped the Benghazi Committee would produce anti-Clinton fodder were left to wonder about the point of this lengthy and unproductive exercise.
Indeed, this probe was among the longest in American history, and when it comes to congressional scrutiny of specific individual events – Pearl Harbor, 9/11, the Kennedy Assassination, Watergate, etc. – the Benghazi investigation was the longest ever.
For his trouble, Gowdy is now getting a promotion. The congressional tradition of “falling up” continues to endure.