For one brief day this week, President Donald Trump hired former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to help him with a recently launched impeachment inquiry by the House. It took mere hours before the footage was revealed of Gowdy attacking the previous White House for not providing requested documents about Hillary Clinton.
While an impeachment inquiry is supposed to give more teeth to a Congressional investigation, the White House has still refused to cooperate, comply with subpoenas or even allow department staffers to appear and answer questions.
Instead, they hired Gowdy to help them navigate the House impeachment spin.
“A day later, the arrangement fell apart, with lobbying rules prohibiting Mr. Gowdy from starting until January, possibly after the inquiry is over,” reporters Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni reported. “Now, according to two people familiar with events, Mr. Gowdy is never expected to join the team. And Trump advisers are back to square one, searching for a different lawyer.”
The announcement basically “ended in disarray,” and proved to be yet another example of the lack of organization in the Trump White House.
Interviewing a half-dozen aides and other people close to Trump, The Times reporters said that by Wednesday evening, White House aides were already “distancing themselves from the bungled personnel maneuver, which was made public before all the usual procedural boxes had been checked.”
Some pointed to chief of staff Mick Mulvaney for botching the “rollout.” Though, the rollout wasn’t exactly the problem, so much as it was Gowdy’s own history that broadcast all over cable news. Trump wanted another ally on cable news defending him, while Mulvaney wanted someone who understood the way Congress worked.
White House staff checked whether Emmet Flood would do it, but he was busy. Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen is serving three years in prison. Given Cohen’s troubles, Trump’s tendency to not pay his bills and that he never listens to anyone, finding someone willing to work with him.
“As Mr. Mulvaney pushed for Mr. Gowdy, a former House colleague and fellow South Carolinian, he swatted away questions from several aides about whether Mr. Gowdy would be curtailed in his role by lobbying regulations,” said the report. “Both men assured people that there would be no problem, according to the people briefed on what took place.”
Not everyone was on board with Gowdy, and some were concerned about the idea, namely White House counsel Pat Cipollone, three sources confirmed, and Cipollone denied. Trump told aides to work it out.
Trump and Jared Kushner sat down with Gowdy Tuesday for lunch and Trump was skeptical but signed off anyway.
“Trey’s command of the law is well known, and his service on Capitol Hill will be a great asset as a member of our team,” said Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow.
Just 30 minutes later, Gowdy confessed there was a problem with him being another lobbyist in Trump’s revolving door of corruption.
“Trey Gowdy is a terrific guy,” Trump told reporters. “He can’t start for another couple of months because of lobbying rules and regulations. So you’ll have to ask about that.”
Meanwhile, Trump is on the hunt for someone else.
“The president, at one point, asked Mr. Mulvaney who was leading the effort,” reported The Times. “Mr. Mulvaney, who often invokes Mr. Kushner’s name around Mr. Trump to show that he has a good relationship with the family, passed the buck to Mr. Kushner. Mr. Kushner, who aides said had been spending many hours on impeachment as part of his broader portfolio of defending the president, has told some people he is running the inquiry response and played down that idea with others.”
Gowdy has already lost his Fox News paid commentary gig joining the legal team. But Rudy Giuliani has been sidelined for now, given his problems with the Ukraine scandal. So, Trump is left without his own advocate on air.