“I am pleased to announce that former Congressman Trey Gowdy is joining our team as counsel to the president,” said Jay Sekulow, Trump’s attorney, in a statement Wednesday night.
“I had known Trey for years and worked with him when he served in Congress. His legal skills and his advocacy will serve the president well. Trey’s command of the law is well known, and his service on Capitol Hill will be a great asset as a member of our team.”
On Thursday afternoon, Trump said: “Trey Gowdy is a terrific guy. I think there’s a problem with he can’t start for another couple of months because of lobbying rules and regulations,” adding that it appears like Gowdy can’t start “until sometime after January.”
Gowdy, 55, had served as chairman of the House oversight committee from 2017.
Gowdy had built his name as chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi from 2014 to 2016, where he led the investigation into the 2012 Islamic terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The attacks killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The lengthy investigation included probing into Hillary Clinton’s role as secretary of state and culminated in an 800-page report in June 2016.
Gowdy did not seek reelection in the 2018 midterms after having represented South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District for eight years and retired from Congress in January.
“Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system,” he said at the time.
After leaving office, Gowdy joined the law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP in Greenville, South Carolina. He also signed on as an on-air contributor for Fox News in January.
Fox News announced Wednesday that Gowdy has been “terminated” by the network. Reports surfaced on Tuesday, citing anonymous sources saying that Gowdy was slated to join Trump’s legal team. The team includes Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani, Marc Mukasey, and William Consovoy.
News of Gowdy’s appointment comes just after the White House indicated that it would not cooperate with House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry push.
In an eight-page letter (pdf), White House counsel Pat Cipollone said the impeachment inquiry into Trump runs afoul of congressional norms and is “highly partisan and unconstitutional.”
A July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is the focus of an impeachment inquiry into Trump. The investigation was announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sept. 24; she alleged that Trump “seriously violated the Constitution.”
House Democrats have accused Trump of abusing his power by asking Zelensky to investigate the 2020 presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, saying that his request for Ukraine’s assistance to look into the Bidens was intended to investigate the alleged corruption. It was not to look for information on a political opponent.
Trump said Wednesday that he would consider cooperating on the conditions that the House formally votes to approve rules for the impeachment inquiry, and if such rules were “fair.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.