Gowdy Says He's Been a 'Lousy Politician'

'I see multiple sides of a single issue, and the fact that someone disagrees with me does not make me challenge their love of the country'

February 5, 2018

Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy (S.C.) told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday that he believes he's "been a pretty lousy politician" during his seven years in Congress.

Gowdy, who was first elected to represent South Carolina's Fourth Congressional District in 2010, announced last week that he would retire this year rather than run for reelection. Gowdy became chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in June of 2017 after Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah) resigned to pursue a career as a political commentator. From 2012 to 2016, Gowdy led the House investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attacks, which revealed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a private email server during her tenure.

"My wife hates it when I say this, but I was a pretty good prosecutor, I think. But I've been a pretty lousy politician," Gowdy told CBS's Margaret Brennan.

When asked why he believes his tenure in elected office has been "lousy," Gowdy cited his ability to understand "multiple sides" of an issue and his unwillingness to engage in the partisan attacks that have come to define Washington, D.C.

"I see multiple sides of a single issue, and the fact that someone disagrees with me does not make me challenge their love of the country. It doesn't make me believe that they're corrupt. I've got a lot of friends on the other side of the aisle," Gowdy said.

"In politics too often, winning is the only thing that matters ... Loosing is not the worst thing in the world. Not knowing what you believe and not caring enough about it to fight for it – that's the worst thing," he said.

Gowdy, who previously served as a country prosecutor, plans to return to the justice system upon leaving Congress.

"I've done it for seven years," Gowdy said of his tenure in the House of Representatives. "I'm really grateful for the opportunity to do it, but it's time for me to — whatever time I've got left, I want to spend it in the justice system because that's where my heart is."

"I enjoy the justice system more, I enjoy being fair. I enjoy the pursuit of fairness as a virtue," Gowdy added. "I'm just more comfortable in that system."

Gowdy also admitted that he had contemplated leaving Congress in the past, but Tim Scott (R.), South Carolina's junior senator, convinced him to stay.

"I was thinking of doing this two years ago, but Tim Scott talked me out of it," Gowdy said. "Tim tried this time, but my wife won."

Scott and Gowdy are longtime friends who were elected to Congress at the same time, have written a book together stressing their friendship, and at one point even contemplated running for Governor and Lt. Governor of South Carolina together in 2018.