A Congressman Just Called Public Hearings “a Freak Show”

The irony seems to be lost on Trey Gowdy.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., questions witness FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok, during a joint hearing on "oversight of FBI and Department of Justice actions surrounding the 2016 election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 12, 2018. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo

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There is perhaps no one person more responsible for some of Congress’ most embarrassing public spectacles over the past three years than Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC).

Gowdy was the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, the congressional body that spent two years and nearly $8 million trying to torpedo the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton through an endless, and not especially fruitful, investigation of the 2012 deaths of four Americans in an attack at the diplomatic outpost in Libya. His committee’s investigation included at least 11 hours of public testimony from Clinton herself, a marathon hearing that featured members of Congress shouting over each other but which ultimately produced no damning evidence of wrongdoing.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Gowdy also oversaw this week’s 10-hour grilling of FBI agent Peter Strzok about his role in the Russia investigation and whether text messages to his mistress, Lisa Page, reflected anti-Trump animus that hopelessly compromised the investigation. Both hearings have become the butt of numerous late-night TV jokes. Both could have been reined in by Gowdy, the committee chairman.

But Sunday on “Face the Nation,” as if he had no control over such things, Gowdy seemed to agree with TV comics and Democrats alike when he said that public hearings are “a freak show” and “a circus”and that doesn’t like to hold them. 


In the same interview, Gowdy also weighed in on President Donald Trump’s upcoming summit meeting Monday with Russian President Vladimar Putin. In light of Friday’s indictment of 12 more Russians accused of interfering with the 2016 presidential election, Gowdy suggested that Trump should ask Putin to extradite all of those who have been indicted in the hacking investigation—a total of 25 thus far. “Your first request of Vladimir Putin needs to be, ‘Tell us which airport we can pick up the 25 Russians that tried to interfere with the fundamentals of our democracy,'” Gowdy said of Trump.

The idea of asking Putin to turn over the culprits responsible for hacking the 2016 election does not seem to have occurred to Trump, who was also interviewed by CBS News in a segment aired Sunday. CBS asked Trump whether he would ask Putin to extradite the indicted Russians when he meets with the Russian president in Helsinki on Monday. “I hadn’t thought of that,” Trump said. “But I certainly, I’ll be asking about it. But again, this was during the Obama administration. They were doing whatever it was during the Obama administration.”

Trump didn’t seem to have much hope that his meeting with Putin would accomplish much. He told CBS, “I’m not going with high expectations.” 

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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