Regardless of what you may think of South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, if you aren’t a Palmetto State political junkie, you may not know that the man with the most notorious haircut in Congress has a wonderful, self-deprecating sense of humor.
It’s something U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, knows quite well. The two South Carolina Republicans frequently rib each other on social media and to the press, with most of the ribbing centering around the mangled mop on top of Gowdy’s head.
It’s a bond that’s so strong and genuine the two have even penned a inspirational book together, “Unified: How Our Unlikely Friendship Gives Us Hope for a Divided Country.” It’ll hit stands April 3.
Right now, I’m even looking at a goofy pic of the duo in which Scott’s dressed in standard business casual and Gowdy’s wearing a blue beanie, a white Oxford, and off-white shorts, flashing a peace sign like he’s a grown-up member of the Icy Hot Stuntaz.
And then there’s Gowdy’s 2016 campaign television ad which trumpeted Gowdy’s conservative credentials, in particular his role as the tough-as-nails Sam Waterston of Benghazi: Partisan Investigation Unit, while also poking fun at Gowdy’s series of bad hair days. The dang thing was even set in a barber shop. The tagline: “Trey Gowdy: Consistent Conservative, Inconsistent Haircuts.”
All of this is in stark contrast to the role Gowdy played during the Benghazi hearings.
As a loyal soldier for the GOP, Gowdy attacked the investigation with the ruthless tenacity that made him a champion prosecutor. But according to his critics, Gowdy’s task was less about uncovering the truth of what happened on Sept. 11, 2012, than it was to paint a case that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to protect U.S. citizens — and then tried to hide the facts about the attack.
In the end, Hillary took a beating but survived to win the Democratic presidential nomination, and Gowdy became a hero to the red-meat crowd and an arch-villain to blue staters.
But unbeknownst to the public, the Congressman had grown disillusioned with partisan politics. Rumors even swirled that Gowdy might return home to run as lieutenant governor on a joint ticket with Tim Scott, but that seemed unlikely.
Still there was something there, perhaps even a story of a man who felt he had lost a piece of his soul in D.C. and sought redemption. Perhaps.
On Jan. 31, 2018, Trey Gowdy announced he wouldn’t be running for re-election. Instead, he hoped to return to law, where, he said, there are jobs that “both seek and reward fairness.” It was a clear jab at Congress.
Not long after the announcement, a much-different image of Gowdy began to emerge, one that frequently supported Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russian investigation and countered Trump Twitter tantrums.
Although Gowdy tsk-tsked Mueller for not cracking down on leaks, the Congressman praised the former FBI director’s apolitical, blemish-free career.
Gowdy was also one of the few Republicans to counter the declaration from the House Intelligence Committee that it had found no evidence that Russia had attempted to get Donald Trump elected, saying, “It is clear, based on the evidence, Russia had disdain for Secretary Clinton and was motivated in whole or in part by a desire to harm her candidacy.”
Prior to that, Gowdy took issue with the common GOP assertion that Devin Nunes’ #releasethe memo offered proof that the Russian investigation was a Democratic-led witch hunt against Trump, a witch hunt solely supported by a controversial and partially discredited Steele dossier.
In a Feb. 4 interview on “Face the Nation,” Gowdy negated these claims, stating, “To the extent the memo deals with the dossier and the FISA process, the dossier has nothing to do with the meeting at Trump Tower. The dossier has nothing to do with an email sent by Cambridge Analytica. The dossier really has nothing to do with George Papadopoulos’ meeting in Great Britain. It also doesn’t have anything to do with obstruction of justice.”
And there are few more authoritative voices on the Nunes’ memo than Gowdy: He co-wrote it.
Flash forward to this week. Gowdy may have defended Trump’s firing of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying he “undercut his credibility by himself,” the Congressman publicly condemned any move to fire Mueller, an action Trump himself has long considered and his lawyer recently supported.
On Sunday, Gowdy spoke very pointedly about President Twitler’s behavior, telling Fox News’ Chris Wallace, “When you are innocent, if the allegations are collusion with the Russians and there is no evidence of that, and you are innocent of that, act like it.”
Gowdy even issued President Trump a very clear warning if he tries to stop Mueller: “I would just counsel the president, it’s going to be very, very long bad 2018.”
Clearly, Trey Gowdy is no longer bound by partisan obligations. You might even say he is well on his way back to a world where fairness matters and those who seek it are rewarded.