“Star” GOPer Trey (“Benghazi”) Gowdy Joins Demagogue Donald’s Impeachment Defense Team October 13, 2019
The French, a favorite GOP bete noire, have a phrase for what’s going on in Washington-- “Plus ca change, la meme chose.” Translation: “the more things change, they remain the same.” Demagogue “outsider” Donald may be at the helm in DC, but the cast of characters he relies on constitutes the same old same old “insider” GOP gang. Exhibit A-- Rudy Giuliani, who despite having a card designating him a member of the bar, looks like a legal imposter “defending” Donald. As Trump rightfully faces a House Democratic impeachment inquiry, who has he just tapped to join his defense team? Why none other than former S. Carolina GOP Congressman Trey Gowdy. Remember Gowdy? He was the fellow who chaired the House Select Benghazi committee. Despite several previous GOP investigations finding no fault with then Sec. of State Hillary Clinton for the 9/2012 terrorist attack on Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, Gowdy “re-invented the investigation wheel.” He interviewed 81 witnesses and reviewed 75,000 additional pages of Obama administration documents. In 2015, he grilled Hillary for over 11-hours discovering nothing. He spent spent over two and a half years and $7.8 million on this Benghazi investigative farce (See huffpost.com, Bobic, I., 10/09/19, rollingstone.com, washpost. com, Demirjian, K., 6/28/16). However, Gowdy’s committee has been partly “credited” with discovering that Hillary used a private email server. Too much of the media blew Hillary’s use of a private server into a “capital crime.” The private email server brouhaha employed endlessly against Hillary was a major factor in her 2016 surprise loss to Donald (See Dumain, E., 1/31/19, mcclatchydc.com, 1/31/18). Here’s Trey Gowdy.
Harold Watson “Trey” Gowdy III (55) represented S. Carolina’s 4th Congressional District (CD) for four terms, 2011-2019. The S. Carolina 4th CD is located in the Palmetto State’s upstate part and borders N. Carolina. It includes 90% of Greenville and Spartanburg Counties, with nearly two-thirds of its population living in Greenville. Along with Anderson County, (in the neighboring 3rd CD), Greenville and Spartanburg Counties comprise SC’s largest population area, containing more than 1 million residents. The cities of Greenville and Spartanburg are the 4th’s two major cities (Barone 2020 Political Almanac, “SC4District 4 Profile, 2.census.gov). In the early 20th Century, New England textile mill owners abandoned their factories to take advantage of the mild climate, abundant water power, and, especially, a work force that was accustomed to a low standard of living. The Greenville-Spartanburg area became a heavy textile region as industrialized as England’s Lancashire and Germany’s Rhur. Before child-labor laws took effect, workers often started at age six in these SC mills. The standard of living was low while illiteracy remained high and few could escape this fate. Today, this formerly largest textile-producing area in the U.S. has been replaced by multinational corporations. They came to the SC 4th because of tax incentives, the infrastructure of airports, highways, and the port of Charleston, and a non-unionized work force. Greenville has now become the fourth fastest growing U.S. city. Spartanburg has a BMW plant that has been there for 27 years. This plant hopes to put out 450,000 vehicles and wants to nearly double its payroll of 9,000 with a more than $9 billion investment. Michelin is a big Greenville area employer and has more than 4,000 workers at several plants. In 2016, GE Power opened its first advanced manufacturing center, employing 3,200. Greenville’s revitalized downtown has fancy hotels and restaurants, as well as condos, apartments, and other mixed-use developments that attract the corporate managerial class. Greenville has become a top place for investors and new businesses. In 2014, Greenville boasted of about five young businesses per 1,000 people, almost as many as in Boston and Chicago (Barone 2020).
Culturally, the SC 4th ranges from conservative to very conservative, heavily influenced by its evangelical and fundamentalist churches. Fundamentalist Bob Jones University is part of the Greenville area. It only dropped its ban on interracial dating in 2000 and regained its tax-exempt status in 2017, three decades after losing it. Students are still prohibited from drinking, dancing, and wearing jeans or shorts to class. Politically, the divide is between religious and economic conservatives. After graduating Furman University or nearby Clemson, many young people have decided to stay and large subdivisions have grown up between Greenville and Spartanburg. Some of these newcomers have brought ethnic and religious diversity. Catholics and Jews have come, as well as Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Baha’is, and there even is a gay-oriented church. However, the 4th remains heavily economically and culturally conservative. It consists mainly of people with English and Scots-Irish Protestant heritage like much of the South. Whites make up 74.2% of the population, blacks just 19.3 %, and Asians 2.5%. Although Hispanics grew from 4% of Greenville County’s population in 2000 to 9% in 2015, the overall 4th has a small 7.7% total Hispanic percentage (Barone 2020, census.gov/mycd). The SC 4th has a Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) of R+15. In 2016, Donald clobbered Hillary here 60%-34%.
Greenville, SC native Trey Gowdy grew up in the 4th’s Spartanburg, where he still lives with his wife and two children. His father started out poor, but became the first in his family to graduate college and get through medical school. Even though his father became a well-off pediatrician, he encouraged Trey to get jobs mowing lawns and bagging groceries. Gowdy bought his first car from his father, who made him pay for it with his earnings. As a teen, Gowdy’s academic performance was average. However, at that time, he became inspired by Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign and by working as a U.S. Senate page, sponsored by long-serving SC GOP icon, then Sen. Strom Thurmond. Gowdy started to concentrate on academics. He received his undergraduate degree in 1986 from TX’s Baylor University and a 1989 law degree from the University of South Carolina (Barone 2014 Almanac). Gowdy clerked for a SC appellate justice and then for a SC Federal District Judge. He practiced law in a Greenville firm, before he was appointed an Assistant U.S. Attorney in 1994 (greenvilleeonline.com, Connor, E., 1/03/19). From 1994-2000, Gowdy worked as a federal prosecutor, handling cases ranging from drug trafficking to murder. In 2000, Gowdy successfully ran for the county solicitor’s post and was reelected twice. In that office, he sought the death penalty in seven cases and won them all. Although much of this job was managerial, Gowdy stated that he tried about half of the cases that came through. He focused on preventing violence against women and drunken driving. Gowdy called being a prosecutor the “best job I will ever have in my life (Barone 14).”
In 2010, Gowdy challenged six-term Greenville/Spartanburg GOP Cong. Bob Inglis in the Republican primary. Gowdy said he decided to oppose Inglis after this incumbent had “tacked left” on the issues. Gowdy criticized Inglis for his opposition to W Bush’s Iraq troop surge and for being against oil exploration in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWAR). In Tea Party year 2010, Gowdy claimed he was running against the “sins of Congress,” rather than Inglis the individual (Barone 2014). Inglis’ biggest “sin” was to have studied the scientific evidence and have reached the conclusion that global warming was real and carbon emissions had to be controlled. Inglis and Gowdy had previously been longtime allies and friends. Not anymore. Koch Industries, which initially had supported Inglis, refused to give him any money and gave Gowdy at least $7,500. Koch made sure that its Americans for Prosperity group packed Inglis’ town hall meetings with hostile Tea Partiers screaming at him for supporting environmental regulation and just about everything else. The result? In the initial primary, Gowdy beat Inglis and handily clobbered him 71%-29% in the runoff. Inglis was made an example by Koch for any GOPers and Democrats who dared support environmental regulation. In 2010, the GOP took back the Democratic House (See “Kochland,” Leonard, C., 2019, Barone 14). Gowdy easily beat his Dem. opponent that year and coasted to re-election in his three subsequent terms (SC Election Results).
Gowdy called himself a “prosecutor, not a politician.” In addition to the anti-Hillary Benghazi inquisition, he doggedly took part in all his party’s never-ending investigations of the Obama administration. Gowdy had a politician’s gregarious personality. He was always willing to offer opinions to reporters and lavishly compliment his colleagues (Barone 14). During his four congressional terms, Gowdy was considered “one of the GOP’s most versatile and skilled legal experts, owing to his background as a federal prosecutor(politico.com,6/02/18).” Democrats, however, criticized Gowdy for conducting investigations in a partisan fashion (politico.com, 6/02/18). Gowdy was as ferocious as any of his Class of 2010 colleagues in attacking the Obama administration. He called on Obama’s Atty. General Eric Holder to resign and criticized then Dem. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as “mind-numbingly stupid (Barone 14).” Although Gowdy initially supported GOPer Marco Rubio for President, when Trump became the 2016 nominee, he quickly jumped on his bandwagon. Gowdy has voted with Demagogue Donald 97.9% of the time (projects.fivethirtyeight.com). In the previous 115th Congress, Gowdy voted with his fellow hard-right 3rd District S. Carolinian Jeff Duncan 96% of the time (projectspropublica.com). Gowdy considers himself “pro-life plus (treygowdy.com/issues, 5/22//12).” Gowdy signed a document called the “Contract from America,” which calls for defunding and repealing Obamacare and limiting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations (thecontract.org/support, votesmart.org, 5/28/12).
Before joining Donald’s impeachment defense team, Gowdy was a contributor to the GOP Propaganda Channel/aka Fox News (See thehill.com). Although Gowdy attacked the Obama administration for invoking executive privilege in refusing to turn over some documents, he will be joining a team that has already shown itself hell-bent on stonewalling. The Trump gang has already invoked executive privilege and then some to keep the truth about “Ukrainegate” and related issues from coming out. Gowdy will obviously have no problems with executive privilege when Trump is involved. Remember for Gowdy and crew, IOKIYAR, “It’s OK if You’re a Republican” to do anything to save Donald.
Trump supporter/ Washington lawyer, Victoria Toensing, thinks that Gowdy “doesn’t know s***” and is “a joke (newsyahoo.com, Walker, H., 10/10/19, nytimes.com Cottle, M., 10/11/2019).” She blames Gowdy for mishandling the Benghazi investigation (yahoo, Walker). However, never ever “misunderestimate” Gowdy’s ability to play prosecutorial hardball while at the same time charming many in the media. Democrats must keep the focus on Demagogue Donald’s misdeeds. They must not let Gowdy successfully use “smoke and mirrors,” get waylaid by his nasty attacks, or become ensnared by his stonewalling.
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