Trey Gowdy should have bailed while he still could

Back in late January, just as rogue Republican Congressman Devin Nunes was releasing a misleading memo aimed at obstructing justice on Donald Trump’s behalf, Nunes’ close ally Trey Gowdy abruptly announced that he was retiring from Congress at the end of his term. Whatever spooked Gowdy into exiting stage left, he decided to stick around and finish his term instead of resigning on the spot. That’s a move he’s clearly now coming to regret.

We still don’t know precisely what caused Trey Gowdy to end his own political career. He represents such a deeply red district, he would presumably have been the favorite to get reelected even amidst the 2018 Blue Wave. Did he conclude that if he went any further down the rabbit hole with Nunes, he’d end up being on the hook for obstruction of justice? Did he see intel related to the memo that made him conclude the GOP was at risk of crashing and burning? In any case, Gowdy instantly became a different animal.

Trey Gowdy began talking about how he wanted to return to his days as a prosecutor. He acknowledged that the Nunes memo was nonsense. He was clearly trying to paint himself as reasonable, after having spent his political career being cravenly and dishonestly hyper-partisan. The trouble for the “new” Gowdy was that he was still left playing the role of the old Gowdy, thanks to his roles on the House Oversight, Intel, and Judiciary Committees.

In the months since Trey Gowdy announced his retirement, we’ve seen him give strangely tepid performances during one House hearing after another. Even he doesn’t seem to know what side he’s on anymore, or which lies his Republican Party is supposed to be pushing on any given day. During yesterday’s hearings, Gowdy looked like he wished he could hide under his desk as he half-heartedly pushed Team Trump’s bullshit narrative. Peter Strzok and Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman both ended up verbally wailing on Gowdy, and he lacked the strength to put up much of a fight in return.

In the old days, Trey Gowdy was an arrogantly confident lying corrupt scumbag. These days he’s a tepid lethargic lying corrupt scumbag. Six months ago he seemed to have figured out that if he didn’t cut and run, he’d be forever married to the Trump-Russia treason scandal that will land everyone from Devin Nunes to Donald Trump behind bars. But because he decided to finish his term, he’s being married to the treason scandal anyway. Gowdy should have skipped town while he still could. Based on the damage he’s done to democracy over the years, he’s getting what he deserves.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report