FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Trey Gowdy: a force to be reckoned with
Until recently I’d never paid much attention to SC Congressman Trey Gowdy. He first popped on my radar when he was appointed to head the investigation into Benghazi, my concern was that the fix was in and a go-along-get-along apparatchik had been appointed to bury it so as to not discomfit Hillary Clinton as she, Hamlet-like, mulls a run for the White House. I was pleasantly surprised. Since then he has shown he is a man to be reckoned with. This is an assortment of his hit.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on Secret Service protocols in response to a September 19, 2014, security breach at the White House. In the incident, Omar Gonzalez allegedly climbed a White House fence, ran across the North Lawn, and entered the executive mansion.
Gowdy blasts the Secret Service for taking “three to four” days to find any evidence. The pit bull from South Carolina asks Pierson why a housekeeper found glass “and your agents did not.” Pierson tries going off on a bunny trail – a big mistake with Gowdy. “Is that true,” the representative interrupts, “that a housekeeper found evidence of the shooting and your agents did not?”
Professor Charles Tiefer was brought in by Democrats as an expert to help determine whether the House Judiciary Committee should appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS scandal. Tiefer, who previously served as solicitor and deputy general counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives, was also recently asked by Democrats to provide a statement on House Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit against President Obama, which he called an “embarrassing loser.”
“Professor Tiefer, would you seat a juror who referred to your client as an obscene body part?” Gowdy asked, clearly referring to emails that show ex-IRS official Lois Lerner referring to conservatives as “assholes” and “crazies.”
Professor Tiefer didn’t say a word for about five seconds before he muttered, “I’m sorry?”
“Would you seat a juror, in a trial, who referred to your client as an obscene body part?” Gowdy repeated.
“I really have trouble to giving you an answer except that—“ Tiefer began before being interrupted by the South Carolina Republican.
“Well, then you would starve to death as a lawyer if you can’t answer that question, professor,” Gowdy said. “You would seriously consider seating a juror in a trial, a criminal trial, where your client was accused of a crime, if that juror had referred to your client as an obscene body part, you would struggle with whether or not to strike that juror?”
The result was two hours of slow-building arguments about whether the State Department’s crowded org chart prevented quick action or accountability when it came to diplomatic safety. Only after that did Gowdy take back the mic and set a trap for Gregory Starr, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security who worked briefly under Hillary Clinton and returned to State last year. Gowdy read from an unnamed document full of promises to fix up embassy security.
” ‘We praise the ambassador for seeking security enhancements long before the attack,’ ” said Gowdy. “Do you know what that’s from?”
“I believe it’s part of the ARB report,” said Starr.
“From nineteen-ninety-nine,” said Gowdy, drawing out each number.
Starr cheerfully tried to recover from Gowdy’s throat-punch. “After Nairobi, correct?” he asked.
“‘The Secretary of State should personally review the security situation of diplomatic facilities, closing those which are threatened,’ ” said Gowdy, quoting the report. “Why do you think the 1999 ARB went out of its way to use the word personally?”
Starr paused. “No comment, sir,” he said.
Gowdy was temporarily stunned. “Is the answer privileged?” he asked. “That’s a recommendation from the 1999 ARB. The secretary of state should personally review. I’m asking you, with all due respect—we’re not going to get to the word review. We’ve got to get past the word which modifies review, which is personally.”
Starr had an answer, finally. “I think ultimately the secretary, who bears responsibility, has to be brought the information necessary for him to make decisions,” he said. “That is my job.”
Gowdy looks to be a solid conservative who balances his partisanship with a sense of propriety. If he is too effective, you can bet he is going to be invited to take that walk along top the walls of Jerusalem and view what he could have if he’d just rent his soul for a short period of time. That will be the true test of his character.