Trey Gowdy certainly has no reputation as a “maverick.” For years he’s led the charge in conducting endless investigations of Hillary Clinton and generally holding a hard Republican line. But earlier this year, Gowdy determined that he would not be running for Congress again in the fall. And, as Politico reports, that decision has been somewhat freeing.
Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina said that the evidence gathered by the committee clearly showed Russia’s disdain for Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton, and was “motivated in whole or in part by a desire to harm her candidacy or undermine her Presidency had she prevailed.”
A source familiar with Gowdy’s thinking said the congressman believes there’s no difference between opposing Clinton and backing Trump in what had become, effectively, a two-person race. The source added that Gowdy “disagrees with the conclusion” that the intelligence agencies got it wrong.
This puts Gowdy squarely at odds with the one page “summary” of findings offered by the Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee less than half an hour after they announced the closure of the Russia investigation without consulting Democrats on the committee. That summary includes a statement in which the Republicans make an extra-special carve-out from the findings of the intelligence community concerning Russian actions in the 2016 election.
Concurrence with the Intelligence Community Assessment’s judgments, except with respect to Putin’s supposed preference for candidate Trump.
But Gowdy, who doesn’t have to face Trump or Trump voters in the fall, has been willing to admit at least that much of the truth: Russia’s goal was to help Donald Trump.
Confronted with questions about their reports, several Republicans on the committee have tried to make a distinction that makes no difference: Russians weren’t trying to help Trump … they just wanted to hurt Clinton.
Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) emphasized that point on CNN on Monday night, suggesting that the evidence of Russia’s disdain for Clinton was evident but that it did not necessarily support a conclusion that the Russians backed Trump’s candidacy. Conaway, too, argues that the discrepancy is an issue of the “analytic tradecraft” that the intelligence agencies used to reach their conclusion.
Mike Conaway, an accountant, is obviously the exact person who should be lecturing career members of the intelligence on their tradecraft. Much of what Gowdy is doing is just recognizing the inherent ridiculousness of that statement.
“He believes the debate over whether desiring a negative outcome for Clinton necessarily meant Russia had a preference for candidate Trump is a distinction that doesn’t make a difference,” the source said.
“The CIA just got it wrong,” Stewart said on CNN on Monday night, saying he had viewed the raw intelligence the agencies used to reach their determination. “The CIA just got it wrong, just like they did, by the way, in the Gulf War, when they said there were weapons of mass destruction.”
Thirteen years ago, the intelligence community concluded in a 93-page classified document used to justify the invasion of Iraq that it lacked “specific information” on “many key aspects” of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.
But that’s not what top Bush administration officials said during their campaign to sell the war to the American public. Those officials, citing the same classified document, asserted with no uncertainty that Iraq was actively pursuing nuclear weapons, concealing a vast chemical and biological weapons arsenal, and posing an immediate and grave threat to US national security.
It wasn’t that the CIA got it wrong. It was politicians who pretended their analysis was better than that of the experts.