Trey Gowdy Says ‘No Idea’ Whether He Will Join Trump’s Legal Team in January

October 29, 2019 Updated: October 29, 2019

Former South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy said he has “no idea” whether he will be needed by Trump’s private legal team given that he’s barred from communicating with anyone in Congress until January.

Amid the Democrat-led effort to impeachment President Donald Trump, it was announced that Gowdy was slated to join as an outside legal counsel to the president. However, Trump said on the following day that it appears like Gowdy can’t start “until sometime after January [2020]” due to lobbying rules and regulations.

Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Gowdy told host Margaret Brennan that he does not know what will happen come January.

“I have no idea,” Gowdy responded after being asked whether he will be involved with the president’s legal team in January.

“I don’t know what, if anything, will exist in January. It may be over,” he said. “My sense is the president needs folks that can represent him now before the House, the Senate, and indirectly through television shows and print media.”

“For one year, I can’t talk to the House or Senate, and my reading of that statute, and it’s a restrictive reading I’ll grant you, but my reading is I can’t even communicate indirectly on behalf of a person with the intent to persuade,” Gowdy added about the lobbying rules.

“If Dallas doesn’t start playing better, I won’t be alive in January. So, I don’t know who I’ll be representing,” he joked.

Gowdy, 55, served as chairman of the House oversight committee from 2017. He did not seek reelection in the 2018 midterms after having represented South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District for eight years. He 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.

Brennan questioned Gowdy as to why he would decide to engage in the impeachment inquiry, “one of the most divisive, vitriolic arguments that could be had” after signaling that he was tired of politics when he stepped down.

“To me, impeachment is the political death penalty,” Gowdy responded. “There’s a reason our country has never removed anyone from office. I look at it as a lawyer: What process is someone entitled to if you are seeking to remove him or her from office and assign to them a stigma that will echo through the halls of history? How much process is due?”

Brennan continued: “You’re talking about ‘process’ there, and that’s very specific here in terms of some of the criticisms from Republicans of this Democrat-led investigation.” She then played an excerpt from what Gowdy told her last year in April on the show. He said at the time: “Our private hearing was much more constructive than the public hearing. Public hearings are a circus, that’s why I don’t like to do them, I don’t do many of them, it’s a freakshow.”

“Do you still believe that?” she asked him.

“100 percent,” he replied.

Impeachment Process

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) have continued their impeachment inquiry largely behind closed doors, and rejected demands from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) for a formal House vote to authorize an official impeachment procedure—something that has been done in all previous attempts to impeach a president.

“You can’t pick and choose which aspects of due process you’re going to use,” Gowdy told Brennan. “It’s not just the privacy; the reason we respect executive branch investigations isn’t because they’re behind closed doors, it’s because there are no leaks.

Gowdy referred to the Mueller, Horowitz, and Durham investigations at the Department of Justice (DOJ) as examples of respectable procedure that aren’t subject to “selective leaks” from actors that may be trying to “prejudice the outcome of an investigation.”

“I mean, John Durham … you have no idea what John Durham has been doing, you have no idea what Michael Horowitz is going to say in his FISA report, there were no leaks with Bob Mueller,” Gowdy said.

He added that he valued executive-branch investigations “because they’re fact-centric, because you wait until the end to draw conclusions, and because there are no leaks.

“It’s just not fair to do it on an hour-by-hour basis,” he said, referring to Adam Schiff’s House impeachment inquiry.

“So, I do understand the Republican frustration with the current investigation.”

A July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is currently the focus of an impeachment inquiry into Trump.

The investigation was announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sept. 24. The White House released the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call on Sept. 25.

The House is slated to vote this coming week on how to “ensure transparency” in the impeachment inquiry after concerns from Republicans that due process was not being followed.

Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy