WASHINGTON — House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz’s decision to resign from Congress in the coming weeks has opened up a key role in one of the powerful House committees investigating potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign — and it looks like Republicans are ready to pick another hardline partisan to take his place.
Committee sources say that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who is best known for his hard charge to discredit Hillary Clinton as head of the House Benghazi Committee, is interested in replacing Chaffetz, a close friend of his. He’s been talking to members to gauge their interest, and most expect him to take that role.
Gowdy is known as a hardline partisan, and so far has shown little appetite to criticize or investigate President Trump in spite of his fierce accusations and investigations into Clinton. That’s not a good sign, as the House Oversight Committee is expected to take the lead on the House side into investigating whether Trump pressured FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
The South Carolina congressman had initially shown reluctance to take the job, but has changed his mind in recent days.
“I’m just talking to members to find out what qualities they think are important in the next OGR chairperson,” he told reporters Friday.
The committee’s top Democrat shrugged when asked about Gowdy.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who has long fought with Gowdy as the top Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee, was noncommittal when asked what he thought of his old sparring partner.
“They’ve got a deep bench,” he said, waving off questions. “Whoever they send, I’m going to be me, all right?”