In a statement posted to his social media accounts on Wednesday, Gowdy said “there is a time to come and a time to go.” He continued, “This is the right time, for me, to leave politics.”
“I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political or elected office,” Gowdy said in his statement. “Instead I will be returning to the justice system. 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.”
Gowdy’s decision – which came as a shock to many political wonks – comes just eight months after he became chairman of the U.S. House oversight and government reform committee.
Gowdy made a name for himself as a doggedly determined former prosecutor who brought those skills with him to Congress. He was Chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, as well as engaging in highly publicized questioning of former FBI Director James Comey regarding the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server as Secretary of State.
Rep. Gowdy came under fire this past week from members of the conservative base for publicly praising Robert Mueller — a stark departure from his usual comments about Mueller being subject to potential bias. On Sunday Gowdy said he had “100 percent” confidence in Robert Mueller to conduct a fair investigation if he is given the proper resources, and urged lawmakers criticizing the special counsel to “leave him the hell alone.”
In what might have foreshadowed Wednesday’s announcement, Rep. Gowdy also relinquished his position on the House Ethics Committee on January 13th, citing a “challenging workload.”
Rumors immediately began swirling through social media that Gowdy might be in line to take the place of embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions — they remain that for now–rumors. But this departure is the latest in a string of Republicans who have announced they will be leaving their seats and chairmanships behind.
They include: Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas; Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce of California; Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia; Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania; Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas; House Administration Chairman Gregg Harper of Mississippi; House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black of Tennessee and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen.
This is the largest number of Republican congressional retirements since 1996.
Featured image courtesy of AP