It’s like the average American doesn’t really understand the job of the separate, but equal branches of government.
Exiting South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy is revealing a lot about the process, as well as what he and his colleagues go through in a series of interviews, since announcing he won’t be running for reelection.
For starters, all of you jumping up and down because Gowdy and his fellow committee members have never put anybody in jail that they’ve interviewed, you can stop that.
That’s not what they do.
Appearing on Fox News’ “The Story” with host Martha McCallum, he explained:
“It’s the dominant question I get every Saturday morning at Publix, ‘Why don’t these people go to jail?’ I just politely have to tell them that no one in the legislative branch can put anyone in jail for anything. You could admit to a crime in this hearing room and there’s nothing, as a member of the legislative branch, I can do about it. That was my old job. The executive branch is to charge and prosecute and gain a conviction. In the past, we could always say you gotta’ talk to the Obama Justice Department. We can’t say that anymore, because it’s the Sessions Justice Department.”
So all that campaign trail talk of, “Lock her up,” refer those questions to Jeff Sessions.
He further clarifies:
“We build up expectations that we can never actualize. We should tell people we’re having a hearing to shed light, we’re not gonna’ have a hearing to put anybody in jail because I don’t have the power to do it,” he said.
Gowdy also has shown a comfort in breaking with popular opinion from his side of the aisle and has defended special counsel Robert Mueller.
As a former prosecutor, himself, he “gets” Mueller, and has respect for the job he’s working through.
“I can just tell you, having done it for a living, Bob Mueller is every bit as interested in figuring out how we missed the signs that Russia was trying to interfere with our election. Prosecutors are just wired differently from politicians,” Gowdy said.
And that’s the life he wants to return to. He has said recently that he considered himself a “pretty lousy politician,” based on the fact that he’s not hyper-partisan and can see multiple sides to an issue.
The partisanship, in fact, is one of the reasons he is exiting. He just didn’t like it, and some reports suggest he’s found himself butting heads too often with his colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee (especially Devin Nunes).
As far as the probe itself, Gowdy added, “There may or may not be crimes, domestic crimes associated with that, but it’s a foreign power trying to interfere with the gears of our democracy. The hack of the DNC server is a crime. The accessing of John Podesta’s email is a crime.”
You can search YouTube and find various highlight reels of Gowdy’s most epic takedowns of everyone from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to Hillary Clinton, over her part in the Benghazi scandal.
He does have a way of provoking a reaction or backing them into a corner with very specific, tough lines of questioning.
But he can’t lock up any of them.
Here’s Gowdy’s take on President Obama’s “I’m not a king” moment: