As chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) presumably speaks with authority on this matter.
And on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday morning, Gowdy was categorical. There won’t be a leadership-backed impeachment effort against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the House.
“Impeach him for what?” Gowdy said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “No.”
“I’m not convinced there is a movement,” Gowdy added, citing Politico’s recent report that a group of GOP lawmakers are preparing to impeach Rosenstein.
Gowdy expanded on that a bit under questioning from CBS’s Margaret Brennan.
“I’ve had my differences with Rod Rosenstein,” said Gowdy, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “I talk to him quite often privately, which again is a lot more constructive than the public hearings we have.” …
Gowdy on Sunday said Rosenstein is a “Trump appointee” and that if “President Trump is dissatisfied with Rod Rosenstein, he can fire him with a tweet.”
Gowdy began the interview by answering a question about whether the Mueller probe is a “witch hunt.”
I don’t think it’s a witch hunt. I’ve never thought it was a witch hunt. We now have two series of indictments against Russians; one for the social media the other for the unlawful intrusions. Russia attacked this country in 2016. That’s the number one thing we’ve asked Mueller to look at what did Russia do. The second part which unfortunately is where are the hyperfocus is, is with whom if anyone did they do it. Margaret, no Americans have been indicted with respect to conspiring to impact the 2016 elections. My focus is on the first thing: what did Russia do. And that’s not a witch hunt. That’s an attack on our country.
Many people would probably say that’s fair enough, although they might be more impatient than Gowdy with the “hyperfocus” of Democratic politicians, the media, and even Mueller himself on the “with whom if anyone” the Russians may have tried to conduct their “attack.” The left wing arrayed behind Mueller has preemptively come up with “Trump” as the answer, and just keeps trying to reframe the question.
But the bottom line on impeachment is that the Rosenstein effort reportedly being drawn up by Freedom Caucus members, including Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), will not have committee support.
I can’t say I’m broken up about this, as I don’t think impeachment of Rosenstein is the right move at the moment. I do think a contempt of Congress proceeding is supportable and should be pursued. But that’s a separate issue from impeachment, which at the outset is about removing Rosenstein from his job. It seems to me the correct sequence would be voting Rosenstein in contempt first, referring him to the Justice Department (AG Jeff Sessions), and if Trump doesn’t fire him over that, then moving for impeachment.
At any rate, impeachment articles have reportedly been drawn up since at least April 2018, based on Rosenstein’s months-long stonewall with the DOJ/FBI response to the House Intelligence Committee’s request for pertinent information about the agencies’ Russiagate probe.
Members of the House, and their staff, were reportedly provoked in particular by alleged threats from Rosenstein to subpoena them (and even, apparently, to involve their families) made during a confrontation in January 2018.
If Trump simply ordered the DOJ and/or FBI to declassify the long-withheld information and make it available to the public, that might be said to obviate the need to hold Rosenstein in contempt. It would at least solve one part of the problem.
But it honestly doesn’t look from here like Rosenstein has made a good-faith effort to respond to Congress’s undoubted right and obligation of exercising oversight of DOJ functions. At some point, it would be better for America if he were removed from his position.
As to Gowdy, his full-throated defense of Mueller will come off as jarring to many. It makes an interesting contrast with his confrontational approach to Mueller-aligned witnesses in committee hearings. One inevitably recalls the report from Mollie Hemingway at the Federalist, in May 2018, that Gowdy rushed to support the FBI’s use of confidential informants against the Trump campaign without actually reading the background documents that he said justified the FBI.
Just another element of the Russiagate drama we have no way to confidently verify. I will reiterate what I have said before: there is no national security priority higher than getting to the bottom of Russiagate: transparently and verifiably, in full view of the people. No matter what has to be declassified, we can recover from it. We cannot recover from building our future as a nation on buried truths, or a slag heap of lies.
Meanwhile, Trey Gowdy’s decision to leave Congress at the end of this term may be for the best. We will miss his entertaining manner in hearings.