Trey Gowdy’s "trial" obsession: Benghazi committee chair confused about his role

Former federal prosecutor really thinks he's taking Obama to court on criminal charges. Here's the creepy proof

By Simon Maloy
Published May 12, 2014 3:46PM (EDT)
  (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican in charge of the newly formed House select committee on Benghazi, is off to a rough start. The day after he was tapped to lead the committee, Gowdy went on "Morning Joe" and started talking about his forthcoming investigation as if he were taking the Obama White House to court. “If an administration is slow-walking document production,” Gowdy said, “I can’t end a trial simply because the defense won’t cooperate.”

Gowdy is a former federal prosecutor (a fact he won’t let you not know), and to observers it looked like he intended to treat the administration as a defendant accused of a criminal act. Asked about his remark on Fox News Sunday yesterday, Gowdy explained to Chris Wallace that he – as a former federal prosecutor – was just speaking in metaphors informed by experience (as a former federal prosecutor).

For 16 years I spoke in trial metaphors and perhaps I need to get out of that habit. What I simply meant is, when you ask me how long something’s going to last, I need to know how cooperative the other side is going to be. So to the extent that I sent any indication to anyone that I view someone as the defense – what I meant by that is if you can tell me how cooperative the other side is going to be, I can give you a better idea of how long something’s going to last.

This is obvious nonsense. Gowdy does indeed view himself as putting the administration on trial. How do I know this? Gowdy himself said it (it's even on his own Web site).

At the September 19, 2013, House Oversight Committee hearing into Benghazi, Gowdy delivered an emotional statement in which he addressed the relatives of Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods, both of whom were killed in the attacks. In it, he said he would try to deliver them “justice,” because the “real jury … is the American people,” and they are “watching this trial unfold, and they will decide.” Gowdy promised them: “The jury has not forgotten.”

It’s kind of hard to explain that one away as an inapt metaphor.

Simon Maloy

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