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.). Gowdy led the controversial two-year investigation into the 2012 terrorist attacks on a U.S. diplomatic outpost and nearby CIA site in Benghazi, Libya.
Gowdy, who served as a state and federal prosecutor before being elected to Congress in 2010, will succeed Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who is resigning his seat at month’s end to pursue a private-sector career.
The Oversight Committee could play a key role in investigating any alleged Trump administration wrongdoing. While the Senate and House intelligence committees are taking the most prominent role in investigating potential Russian interference in the presidential election on Trump’s behalf, the House Oversight Committee has a wide berth to probe other potential misdeeds. Chaffetz in recent months has sent letters requesting memos by former FBI director James B. Comey and documents pertaining to Trump’s downtown D.C. hotel.
Gowdy said in his statement that he is “grateful to the Steering Committee and the Conference as a whole for this opportunity to serve” and said that oversight is “important to ensure branch integrity and equilibrium.” Gowdy did not grant interviews about his interest in the post before Thursday’s election.
“Trey Gowdy possesses the experience and deep commitment to transparency and accountability necessary to be the House’s next Oversight chairman,” Ryan said in his statement. “He has proven that he will always look out for taxpayers and seek answers from the bureaucracy. Trey has my absolute confidence, and I know he will do an outstanding job.”
Gowdy prevailed over Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.), a more junior member of the Oversight Committee who said in recent interviews he was running to show a “depth of bench” on the committee to highlight his work on government reform initiatives.
The Steering Committee’s recommendation is set to be ratified next week by the full House Republican Conference; Gowdy would assume the chairmanship afterward.