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Trey Gowdy defends House Intel investigation into alleged Russian election meddling

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) defended the existence of the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into charges that the Trump campaign might have colluded with the Russian government before the 2016 election. (Image Source: YouTube screenshot)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) Tuesday to explain why an investigation was necessary into the alleged collusion between the Trump administration and the Russian government before the election since their relationship has soured in the last month. Gowdy explained why the House Intelligence Committee was doing so despite President Donald Trump's agenda hitting obstacles.

"So it does seem in light of the foreign policy developments of the past month or so," Carlson began, "where the United States has assumed a hostile posture toward Russia, that most people have kinda decided y'know, how would Trump be doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin when he and Putin are so at odds. So why given that, is this going forward?"

"Well, I think some of the folks initially who thought that was the motive behind," Gowdy explained, "you have to accept as accurate that Donald Trump colluded and coordinated with the Russians and that they had a motive to help him. So all of those assumptions had to be made before you can then say, 'but he's taken a more belligerent stance towards Russia, therefore that must not be true.'

"I start at ground zero,' he continued. "What happened in 2016, whether it was Russia or another foreign actor, did they try to interfere with our election, what was our response in 2016? Not two months ago, 2016, what did we know, what did we do about it? The felonious dissemination of classified material to me is always relevant. Whether it's in the headlines or not, it's always important. And the issue of unmasking is important."

"But it does seem like, look, in a world where there's only so much time and so many priorities," Carlson pressed.  "In a Congress where, y'know, we didn't get a wall passed. Obamacare has not been repealed or replaced. Where there are a lot of priorities that the president ran on that are unfulfilled, for the Republicans in the body to pursue what is basically a fever dream from CNN, seems a little weird."

"Well, there's six of us, three Rs [Republicans] and three Ds [Democrats] that kinda been assigned to the task force," Gowdy replied. "And we're all on House Intel, so we do have broad jurisdiction. But it doesn't include the border wall, it doesn't include health care, it doesn't include tax reform. We're just intelligence. So, uh, whether it's North Korea, whether it's, uh, human trafficking in South America, it's what we're supposed to do, and providing oversight over the intelligence community is part of it. So, the Intel Community has a robust jurisdiction, but this is part of it. No other committees of Congress to my knowledge are holding hearings, not on the House side.

"And quite frankly, Tucker, we have time. Those of us that are on intel, we can't talk about North Korea, we can't talk about other things that we are investigating. This is one of those rare exceptions where we can both do it," he concluded, "and then ultimately answer people's questions at the end."

"So unless I'm missing something," Carlson said, "the only crime that we're pretty certain occurred, in the U.S., was the leaking of Michael Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador, is that part of the investigation?"

"I would say the hacking of the DNC would also constitute a criminal act," Gowdy responded. "So, and the FBI would have jurisdiction over both of those. But I don't think Congress is well equipped to investigate crime. In fact, I know we're not. So, the constitutional injury or things that are of significant public interest, there is a role for Congress to play. We're dreadful at investigating crime, and we should not attempt to do so. Which is why you don't hear me alleging that people committed crimes."

"That doesn't stop some of your colleagues, I notice," Carlson interrupted.

"It doesn't, and that disappoints me," Gowdy replied, "because I think you ought to wait until all the evidence is in and then ask the jury to draw whatever conclusion you want. But we only have one reputation, and it is so easy to accuse someone of a criminal act, and we do it unfortunately in modern day culture a lot. It's just unfair to the individual no matter who's doing it."

"I totally agree," Carlson said. "Are you confident that [FBI] Director [James] Comey is stable and trustworthy?"

"I am. I have a rich and provocative history with Director Comey dating back to 2016," Gowdy answered. "I prefer to talk to him privately than in public because in fairness to him he can't answer most of my questions in a public setting."

"Well, that hasn't stopped him from making all kinds of provocative public statements and not explaining them," Carlson challenged.

"I have a rich and provocative history with him," Gowdy repeated, "we've agreed on some matters, we've not agreed on some matters. Whether I like it or not, he's a foundational witness. In fact, he's touches all four tranches of our investigation and he may be the only witness that does touch everything from felonious dissemination all the way back to when did the bureau initiate their investigation. So, he's foundational. It's not fair to ask him questions in public when I know he cannot answer them. And them from him we'll develop other witness leads and documents that we need."

The House Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said on a panel at Harvard University that Russia was likely using its success in the U.S. election to guide efforts in other democratic elections around the world. Officials in Montenegro accused Russia of aiding a coup and assassination plot on the eve of their election, and some believe Russia is attempting to influence the outcome of the French election as well.

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