- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The rule of law colors everything for Rep. Trey Gowdy, from the indignant prosecutorial style he employs in Capitol Hill hearings to his three dogs, aptly named Judge, Jury and Bailiff.

Republicans and Democrats alike say the second-term South Carolina Republican is the right man to head the special congressional investigation into Benghazi, a job that could springboard him into positions such as attorney general or service in a Republican presidential administration. But they also say the forthright former prosecutor isn’t likely to cut corners on the investigation to score political points or raise his profile.

“I’ve put a lot of kids through law school, and there’s just some people who can do it and some people [who] can’t,” said Dave Woodard, a political science professor at Clemson University who has served as an adviser to Mr. Gowdy. “And he’s one that could. Extremely well-prepared but very effective in the courtroom. And that’s where he built his reputation.”

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, announced Mr. Gowdy as chairman of the committee even before lawmakers officially voted to establish the panel — a sign of the level of faith the Republican leadership has in Mr. Gowdy, 49.

Mr. Gowdy’s office declined interviews in the days after his selection, but the congressman told “Fox News Sunday” this week that other investigations on Capitol Hill have not produced answers to plenty of questions about the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya.

Among those questions are why the U.S. was still in Benghazi despite the security risks and what President Obama was doing at the time of the attack.

“I have no friends to reward and no foes to punish. We’re going to go wherever the facts take us,” Mr. Gowdy said. “Facts are neither Republican nor Democrat. They are facts. And if we overplay our hand or if we engage in a process that is not fair according to the American people, we will be punished as we should be for that.”

Mr. Gowdy gained attention over the past year for his tough questioning during House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigations into the Obama administration. He was the lawmaker who most forcefully argued the case that former Internal Revenue Service employee Lois G. Lerner waived her right to remain silent after she delivered a statement professing her innocence at her first committee appearance last year.

Mr. Gowdy has an impressive three bills that have been signed into law during his short time in Congress, and he serves on choice committees including the Education and the Workforce Committee, the Ethics Committee and the Judiciary Committee. He is chairman of the Judiciary panel’s immigration subcommittee, putting him in the center of another raging policy debate.

Former Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, a Virginia Republican who headed a number of investigations as chairman of the oversight committee, said Mr. Gowdy’s background will serve him well.

“He’s not what I’d call a ‘red meat’ Republican,” said Mr. Davis. “He has a reputation of being thoughtful and thorough. And he’s a prosecutor, so he knows how to [separate] fact from fiction. So I think that’s why he’s there.”

Dealing with Democrats

Mr. Gowdy’s first job as chairman will be to try to persuade Democrats to appoint five allotted members to the committee. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and her aides have not tipped their hand on a decision.

Mr. Davis, who led a select committee investigating the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, said Democratic leaders boycotted the inquiry, so he invited Gulf Coast lawmakers to join independently.

The Benghazi panel will look into the policy and security questions surrounding the September 2012 attack on the U.S. outpost in Libya that resulted in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

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