Over the past few weeks, Representative Trey Gowdy has become as confusing as his ever-changing hairstyle. Last month Gowdy helped whip up fears about the credibility of the intelligence community, suggesting that there may be an anti-Trump “secret society” within the government — based on an out-of-context joke. Then Gowdy announced that he will not be seeking reelection. Days later, when the memo drafted by Devin Nunes’s staff was made public, Gowdy undermined what appeared to be its central purpose, saying it didn’t discredit Robert Mueller’s probe.
This was a significant blow to President Trump’s argument that he’s the victim of a “witch hunt,” since Gowdy is the only Republican on the House Intelligence Committee who’s actually read the underlying FISA warrant applications — but weirdly, Trump hasn’t lashed out at him.
Now Trump is deciding whether to allow the release of a Democratic memo that rebuts accusations in the Nunes memo. The GOP-controlled House Intelligence Committee voted to make it public on Monday, but a day later White House chief of staff John Kelly told reporters that the president still hadn’t read the document, as it’s a whopping ten pages. “He has it. It’s pretty lengthy,” Kelly said. “We’ll get some people down to brief him on it.”
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Trump is expected to release the Democrats’ memo, with certain parts redacted. Both Democrats and Republicans acknowledge that some classified information in the memo must not be made public, but Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, raised concerns about Trump making “political redactions.”
“That is, not redactions that protect sources or methods, which we’ve asked the Department of Justice and the FBI to do, but redactions to remove information they think is unfavorable to the president,” Schiff said on CNN. “That could be a real problem and that’s our main concern at this point.”
During a Fox News interview that aired Tuesday night, Gowdy floated his own theory about why the Democrats’ memo requires redactions: They’re trying to trap President Trump.
“I think the Democrats are politically smart enough to put things in the memo that require either the [FBI] or the Department of Justice to say it needs to be redacted. Therefore, it creates this belief that there’s something being hidden from the American people,” Gowdy said.
“Unfortunately, we are in an environment where you would include material that you know has to be redacted and you know responsible people are going to redact just so that questions will be asked,” he continued.
Later in the interview, Gowdy reiterated that he’s not ready to say there was an anti-Trump conspiracy within the DOJ because, “I never allege a conspiracy when simple incompetence will suffice as an explanation.”
So why is Gowdy — who was greatly offended when Democrats accused him of fabricating a redaction to smear Hillary Clinton during the House Benghazi investigation — raising the possibility that his Democratic colleagues came up with a convoluted scheme to force Trump into releasing a heavily blacked-out memo?