Trey Gowdy: This is what our politics has come to | Ben Domenech Podcast

Trey Gowdy: This is what our politics has come to | Ben Domenech Podcast

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Trey thanks so much for taking the time To join me today I am delighted to be with you and I hope I'm not overdressed not at all not at All uh we uh we I enjoy the opportunity To not have to put on uh the the uh TV Garb whenever given the chance so uh I Think you should make use of that uh Trey I know that there's a lot of folks Who are You know familiar with your background To a degree but I think that I'd like to Start by just asking you you know you've Had kind of this weird experience of Being in politics and in a time in which A lot of the presumptions about norms And the different things that kind of Went into being successful in politics Have been upended from the national Perspective What has it been like to see that that Kind of transitioned from the old school Of Politics as it used to run to this New school and how much has it really Changed or is it stuff that you think is More about kind of the surface the the Media Communications part of it where The old fundamentals are still at Play Well then I have to confess before I ran For congress I'd never served in a Legislative body before had no idea how It was supposed to run which may be an Advantage because you can't really get Disappointed when you have no clue

What's supposed to happen I can tell you based on what I used to Do in a courtroom which you know a lot Of people think there's got to be a lot Of acrimony in a homicide case Especially death penalty cases There's more civility in in a in capital Litigation than there really isn't a GOP Primary in terms of how I Define Civility The the headwind and again you know I Was unhampered by realistic expectations I I did not have that tethered around my Neck The way success is judged in politics Now at least by the media is the number Of bills you pass which is pretty Antithetical to conservatism Um so I never really figured that out Uh the media headwind was the most Surprising and disappointing part of my Eight years there And then towards the end It was a Fame had become the ultimate Political virtue it was not hard work it Wasn't character it wasn't reliability It wasn't even whether or not you were Smart however that's defined it was Whether you're famous and I I Gotta confess to you then I mean I met People that I that have changed my life I met the guy that will preach my Funeral in Congress it's assuming he Doesn't kill me assuming he's not

Responsible for my death that will be Tim Scott so I feel terrible saying that Maybe I wouldn't do it if I had to do it All over again But it was not a good fit for me I don't Do well in an environment where the Rules and the process doesn't matter Just the result it's just it just Doesn't fit my eye and So I could not in good conscience Encourage really anyone to get involved In the current political uh process in This environment which is a devastating Thing to say but I couldn't do it I Could never encourage you to run I think You have a bigger platform Where You Are Um and honestly speaking for myself Between doing it and talking about it Talking about it is much easier yeah I Mean doing it is actually hard Well one of the things that I think is So sad to hear about when it comes to That kind of thing is that it seems like The incentives are really out of whack Now that people are measured according To those different aspects of Fame uh And that accomplishment when it comes to Actual achieving real change or shifting Things within uh the way that government Policy works just doesn't seem to be Something that's a priority at all I know that there are a lot of different Factors that go into it but from your Own perspective what are the major

Driving forces in terms of getting to a Point where members of Congress are Rewarded more for basically being you Know hype men or being glorified pundits Uh as opposed to actually doing the job That they were supposed to do in the First place Well I probably will get fired for Answering this question Um but that's okay honestly I have Survived longer than anyone thought I Would in television anyway so I I think Uh there are members of Congress who Wake up and try to figure out how they Can get on certain shows at night that Is their that is their dominant goal how Do I either get mentioned or get on And so I think there are these rare Exceptions uh and I'll show my bias Towards two Jim Jordan nobody worked Harder than Jim Jordan nobody prepared Harder than Jim I mean you can like him Or not but I'm telling you I witnessed It the guys are really hard worker you May disagree with everything he did but But he puts the work in he and Radcliffe So their Fame their Um notoriety was really in direct Proportion to their work There are other members of Congress who Are not even on the Committees of Jurisdiction They haven't spent a minute prepping for The deposition of Jim Comey or for this

Hearing or the Bob Mueller here they Haven't spent a minute But they're available to go on from X O'clock at night to Y o'clock at night And talk about what other people have Done And Ben there used to be a world where We really wanted to hear from the people Who actually were digging the ditches You know I mean tell us what it was like To dig the ditch yes now it is well tell Us what it's like to watch your friends Dig the ditch and then tell them how They should have done a better job I think I mean quite candidly television And media has driven a lot of it You know I think that that's true one Other thing though I think is it seems Like we have just a Congress that is so Much weaker than the one that was uh you Know that it was intended to be uh Historically and certainly one where Individual members don't seem interested In doing the work necessary to convince Their colleagues of of a particular aim Or a particular strategy to achieve that Aim they seem more likely to go on TV And essentially use that power to yell At their colleagues to try to cajole Them into place or to try to undermine Them in a way that will eventually force Them into taking some position And and I think that you can see that in A number of different you know fights

That play out uh with regularity in Washington My frustration is I don't see a path out Of that uh in in terms of the current Moment in terms of the current uh Factors involved that incentivize such Behavior I don't know what you know step One step two step three looks like to Get back to a functional uh branch of Government when it comes to the Congress Do you have any ideas on that front or Is there one thing in particular that You think could potentially make a Difference in terms of those incentives For new members who come in I do Um and this will prove to you how Hopelessly naive I am things will only Change when uh the primary voters and or General election voters demanded a Change politics reflects it reacts I Mean I we hear a little phrase political Leaders there are very few leaders that Go into politics they are very good at Taking the temperature as it already Exists but not all that good at trying To change the thermostat When will it change it will change I Used to tell people in my district you Know you don't like the way people act Quit donating to them well we have to do You know we have to have a seat at the Table okay well then there's no Disincentive and it used to be we want

You to vote a certain way but also act a Certain way it is now pretty much we Just care how you vote and how you act Um we kind of minimize it So it will change you put your finger on Something Ben and I'm not surprised Because you're a smart guy you put your Finger on something You could argue the legislative branch Was designed to be the most powerful you Can argue that Um I think you could argue that pretty Successfully It is by far the weakest Branch now it's Not even close And it's true really on both sides I I Remember when President Trump was Elected I was doing an event with Tommy Cotton who used to be in the house and And then went to the Senate and we were Speaking together in Washington And I said this is the perfect time for Us to de-politicize oversight because It's not one team doing oversight over The other ignoring all your own flaws And sins this is the perfect time but You know what Ben there is no appetite There's no appetite for Democrats to Provide oversight over the Biden Administration or Republicans to provide Oversight it's really Party politics now It's not Branch integrity So I don't know when and how Appropriations we compli we go to court

To try to get subpoenas enforce we do All this you've got the ability to Control the funding but they will not do It You know one of the things that happens Of course is that you know you you get The results obviously of the kind of People you support you give that you Give money to that you engage with and That you choose to send to Washington You know the outcomes I think can be Fairly predictable but they also tend to Be at eyes with what you hear from the Voters in districts and this is true Across the country Um you know whenever I'm whenever I have The opportunity to go to a a new state a New district and go there and talk to The voters They'll complain they like their local Member usually and but then they'll say But you know the problem is that you Know Washington does this and Washington Does that and why aren't we getting Answers about this and you know why Haven't they you know gone gotten down On the folks who did all these different Bad things during covid that's something That I hear across the country and I Hear it from people who are left and Right you know it's not like there's Just you know uh a one side that has Questions about that and yet those same Voters feel very frustrated they feel

Like nothing is going to change and they Keep sending the same incumbents for a Large part back to Washington so in Terms of trying to convince those voters That they need to have uh a different Input or or a different attitude toward Membership or what they should expect From it you know how can they have a Clearer idea of what to expect and how To ask for it of how to you know Drive Actual change because what we've seen in Election after election you know the the The the the Clinton election in 92 was a Change election the 2000 George W Bush Election was a change election 08 was a Change election and obviously 16 was a Change election and you kind of pulled The break on that uh in in 20 Um but obviously again that was Something where people maybe felt like Things had gone too far in one way but It just seems like over and over again In in Congress as well in the in the Midterms Voters demand change and then they're Frustrated two years or four years later Feeling like it didn't change the way They wanted it to how does that get Disrupted Well again if you're looking for Evidence that this guy is currently Unelectable and therefore will never run For office again it will be in my answer To that question which is

I I understand that we want change in Certain Realms is government really the Way to change that and are your Expectations realistic when I hear People ask why Congress hasn't put the Following people in jail I don't want to say it makes me want to Pull my hair out because I actually Don't want to be bald It makes me actually want to fix it Which I don't do yeah Congress as you Know has no ability to put anybody in Jail for anything so if that is your Goal is that if your expectation you're Going to be wildly disappointed how About we start with this you mentioned Covid and the the waste of money Look I can remember Republicans arguing For more individual covet payments in Fact I can remember it right before the Georgia Senate runoffs yes it'd be Helpful if we were consistent that would Be helpful And if you or I were trying to get to The bottom of what happened with the Coven money can you think of a way That's less calculated to do that than Me saying okay Ben you have five minutes Use your five minute need five minutes I Don't know why your wife my wife can't Order in five minutes Five minutes five minutes to unlock the Mysteries of some really important issue Is just it's not serious it is not

Serious so are your expectations Realistic and then do your members have The tools to do what you want them To do but I watch people even some of my Friends would go on television with John Durham speaking of high expectations That we're not met yeah they're going to Be indictments I can assure you they're Going to be indictments people are going To go to jail First of all you're saying that without Having any clue what the evidence is That's usually not a good thing to do And then fast forward two years and it's The most underwhelming thing in the World and the few trials they do have Been they lose yeah so I Punish I don't mean like punished by Incarceration but whole people Accountable when what they tell you is Not rooted in reality and they cannot or Do not do it that would be a good place To start Well if you want to talk about you know An experience in terms of divorce from Reality The number of people in America who've Been wanting to see uh Future president then president now Former president Trump in handcuffs and An orange jumpsuit has been enormous And you know as much as I have been one Of those voices as as you have been as Well uh kind of telling folks pump the

Brakes uh you know you that's not the Way this is going to play out and your Your hopes of achieving some end via This that or the other you know latest Thing to go boom on Twitter you know uh Sorry sorry my Democratic friends you Are not gonna you know you're gonna have To beat him And and that's something that I've been Saying you know now for uh years now we Finally have this indictment uh in New York Seems very politically motivated from The outside uh certainly it seems like Something that uh you know a year ago Seemed quite unlikely but now has been Kind of pieced together uh in a way and It seems like something where I mean Even I was listening to NPR the other Day which is something that I do on Occasion and uh and they seemed very Skeptical of of these charges uh you Know certainly they I think there are a Lot of smart Democrats who had more Hopes for things coming out of Georgia Or other ways of going after the former President but looking at the situation As we know it Where we do not know the details of this Indictment where we do not know the the Fact pattern that is that is uh actually Going to be applied here but to the Degree that we do know the the various Elements and facts going on

What is your assessment of it And how do you think it's changed Because this is something I've heard so Many people talk about on TV how do you Think it's going to change the way that Prosecutors district attorneys Attorneys General other officials across the Country start approaching the Prosecution of their political partisan Opponents Well I hope you I hope your podcast is a Couple of hours long because you also Put your finger on I mean you could Argue that the justice system is kind of The one or was past tense the one Remaining institution that we kind of While we weren't fully confident in it We have O.J Simpson we have the first Rodney Um Rodney King verdict we have other Verdicts Casey Anthony that made us kind Of Say what but you could argue that it Hadn't been fully politicized it's Getting tougher and tougher to argue That now Uh New York The feds took a pass on that fact Pattern for a reason Um because they thought they were Witness credibility issues or there was A lack of jury appeal or God forbid they They you know all conduct that is but Not right is not criminal no maybe they

Said look the conduct wasn't perfect but It doesn't rise to the level of a crime We can't meet the elements of the Offense so enter a prosecutor who've Been on day one was kind enough to let You know all the laws he didn't consider Worthy of enforcement So if you're a Republican and you're Watching this you're thinking okay I Hear the phrase anti-democratic a lot in Fact I hear that showing a voter ID in Georgia is anti-democratic you can't Show an ID to vote what about a guy who Summarily says I'm going to undo the New York penal code with a memo I wonder if Anybody thinks that's anti-democratic so Resisting arrest no longer a crime to Him shoplifting and interestingly enough Prostitution paying someone for sex is No longer a crime that Alvin Bragg cares About But God forbid you pay someone not to Talk about that sex afterwards that is Worthy of the full weight of our office I I'm not surprised me George Soros or Whoever's Behind These Progressive Prosecutors They figured out we can either control The entire legislative body and control Which laws or made laws or we can Control the people who enforce them why Don't we go after the one rather than The 200 and it is this is when things Will change Ben when Republicans begin

To hold Republicans accountable when Democrats begin to hold Democrats Accountable and say look we share a Label but this is not right and and you Know you're an exception to that I have Heard you critique Republicans in a way That possibly hurt their feelings But you're the exception it is usually You know You know Patrick McHenry Patrick when I first got he's a Wonderful guy we first got there he said My whole way of doing things was I saw a Fight I jumped in the middle and then Afterwards I would ask what was that About All I needed to see was the color of the Jersey and I hopped in to fight what About saying hey is this the right fight Ahead of time I am I understand people don't like President Trump I I I do understand that Um wanting to see someone imprisoned And this comes from a guy who used to Put people in prison I never chanted Lock her up I don't think we lock people up based on The chance of a crowd I hope we don't Andrew Gillum they were chanting lock Him up and his fate would have it he was Investigated he was indicted I think he Was convicted yeah that's the way we do Things we don't chant first and then go Do it you find out whether or not

There's a factual basis I always thought it was the weakest of The four investigations New York wrong Prosecutor wrong fact pattern legal Hurdles to clear and you are It is not going to take much For some Republican attorney general a Republican district attorney to say you Know what I too can become a household Name yeah let me go and dive Hunter Biden or Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton or Fill in the blank and then I'm telling You Ben when you have a system that Ignores the law and all you see is Political color then you don't have a Justice system and you don't have a Country and that's the thing that Infuriates me about this situation Because if if the incentive structure is Such that you need to indict him if you Can find anything anything at all any Way of seeing your your way through it It doesn't even matter if you win you Will become a household name you will Raise money you will Ascend within the Political ranks You know you have to understand those Are incentives that apply to both sides And that's the thing that I think is so Short-sighted about this and so uh wrong About it in terms of an approach the way That we understand uh the roles of Government because There are so many people across the

Country for whom those same incentives Now exist and if they see the other side Do it in fact People will be in their ear And I think they already are saying You've got to do the same thing to them And when that starts happening and I Think it will happen the ramifications Of that for our Republic are very Dangerous I think Um so how how can we avoid that because It doesn't seem like there's a a large Incentive for Democrats Civic-minded Democrats and I don't mean Necessarily political centrists I mean I I think that you know civic-minded People can be pretty far on the left you Know uh I don't think Bernie Sanders Wants to see this kind of thing happen You know deep down I doubt that you know There are a lot of people who uh you Know care about the the Republic and Care about you know sort of our Institutions enduring that uh that do Want to see this kind of thing happen Particularly given that you know at Least from the analysis of some people Uh you know who do this for a living you Know this is something that boosts the Chances that uh uh former president Trump is not just the Republican nominee But you know could potentially even help Him get back into the White House

That's so far away I don't like making Any prediction about it but do you think There is any kind of of presence any Civic-minded presence within our body Politic they can say wait a minute If we go down this road then it's Pandora's Box and and it's it's not Going to look good for either side Hey can I let you in on a very tightly Held Secret Yes please I actually have a podcast on Fox yes very very lightly listened to One so you would be understood for not Knowing that I have one But I did my very first podcast very First one and they let me talk about Whatever I want to talk about I talked About fairness and what happens when Fairness is no longer a virtue And so if I were to treat you unfairly Ben then in your mind not only are you a Victim not only are you angry I really Think you recalibrate whether or not Fairness is even a virtue and maybe it Gives you license to say okay it's kind Of like you know Edmond Dante's and The Count of Monte Cristo I mean the guy was Treated manifestly unfairly and it Changed how he viewed what was fair I Mean we got Easter this week I mean it Did not change the way that guy viewed What was fair what happened to him So if we consider fairness to be a Virtue if we do then how hard are we

Willing to fight for it and kind of back To my analogy with Tom Cotton Republicans demanding that Donald Trump Be treated fairly is seen as a political Exercise Democrats demanding that Hillary Clinton or Hunter Biden be Treated fairly is a political exercise It will only change when I think it was John Adams that I think In his closing argument he said May Justice be done though the heavens fall When you value fairness and Justice Above any result it will change But I fear been we have become a nation Of relativist if it helps me win I'm Okay with it and and I just that is Dangerous and and when you go too far Down that road there is no coming back Yeah so the answer to me is to say okay I do not want this person to win I don't On the merits I don't want this person To be elected but I am not going to Engage in unfairness To effectuate that outcome Right now I think people are sitting There saying look we don't want I'm not sure whether Democrats want Trump to be the nominee or not you're Smarter when it comes to politics than I Am I don't know if they think they can Beat him But they are making even people who were Not supportive of trump Think this is vindictive after four

Years of investigating him after four Different grand jury investigations After not a word about Hunter Biden Where there does look to be a little Probable cause to at least investigate Quite candidly it just looks vindictive And so they're going to turn him Of all people they're going to turn him Into a victim and then Republicans are Going to recalibrate their view of Fairness and and we'll be in a terrible Spot then Ben Let's go out on this you know you You mentioned that we have Easter coming Up Seems to me that one of the big things That changed politically in my lifetime Uh is that you know as recently as the 1990s Um and and even uh in the beginning of This Century uh one of the things that We saw within American communities Within American neighborhoods was a even Within the context of political Divisions There were shared portions of community There Uh and that included things that were Low connectivity so things like sports Fandom and the like uh to things that Had you know much deeper uh sort of Connection uh in terms of church and Faith communities Um you had

People who would disagree politically And have very different bumper stickers But would also be at this in the same Parking lot together at kids uh sports Games and that kind of thing And you had a significant degree of Overlap there that prevented your Ability from hating somebody who was on The other side at least it would Mitigate it it's hard to hate somebody If you're also you know singing together On Sundays and bound to worship or if You're exalting after you know a big win For the local team or if you're bonding Over family things and and your kids and The like But with this great cultural sort that's Happened that has only gotten faster and That the pandemic seemed to speed up Quite a lot That really seems to have gone away And you don't have that connectivity Within community Um to the same degree that you used to Both within our political class and Within the voters who support them That seems to me a fundamental problem With where we are that politics can't Solve But I feel like it's something that has Been essential to most of American History to prevent us from warring with Each other You know you saw the proposed idea of of

National divorce get some Credence Recently from uh uh Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor green and Other commentators have brought it up And I feel like something like that is Only possible in a point where you Really can come to Uh hate or resent your neighbor uh in a In a way that we don't really consider To be all that American Is there any way to get to that point Because that to me seems essential to The idea of lowering the temperature of Preventing this type of overreach from Law enforcement or from other Institutions that we ought to be able to Trust on both sides of the aisle I would say three things to that man I Would say number one Pursue unlikely relationships I mean Think in your own life right now about The friends the genuine friendships that You have with people who don't look like You don't worship like you and don't Vote like you And how much you have gotten From that relationship I mean the very First book I ever wrote was the power of An unlikely friendship uh Tim Scott and I wrote it together Grew up very very differently we Actually have different political views On a number of issues but he will preach My funeral

So the power of pursuing an unlikely Friendship number one number two You're from Charleston So you vividly remember a young man from Lexington South Carolina driving for two Hours to a historically significant African-American Methodist Church in Killing people because the color of Their skin And then after that The family members of those nine slain Christians said we forgive you So I'm sitting here thinking this guy Wanted to start a race war And he killed people because the color Of their skin and the family members Forgave them and yet many of us cannot Even sit through Thanksgiving with Someone who voted differently from us so How about a little Grace I mean how about a little Grace for People who don't look like us think like Us vote like us who have a different I Mean I've got family members who do not Have uh agree with me politically I would I will there's no issue with me Jeopardizing that relationship I I Prioritize the relationship and the Third thing I would say Ben and we don't Do it anymore you do it but there are Others who you can make a fabulous Living not doing it which is persuasion Easiest thing in the world is for me to Validate or ratify what people already

Believe it is much harder to say look I Love you you're right on a lot of things But have you considered have you thought About this have you thought about that I mean there's almost no persuasion left In politics Ben I mean I so Pursue an unlikely friendship Quit letting politics ruin everything You mentioned Sports I mean ESPN quite Candidly is like almost like a a Political Channel about half the time I Watch it now So you mentioned religion Um I am sure that it offends when I am Asked to speak at churches which is Rarely because the ones that do their Background checks don't ask me to speak When I go my number one goal is not to Offend anyone who got up that morning And went to church making them think is Fine but for me To be trusted with the pulpit of a Church and then trying to go out of my Way to offend somebody who has a Different set of political views Politics ruins everything I think man Religion Sports culture the award show Was the last time you watched an award Show Oh gosh it's been a long time And I would love to see Halle Berry win Award I would love to see that but not At the risk of me having to listen to Someone pontificate about a political

Issue yeah so we've all got to do I Think a better job of like if we don't Like politics why do we let it involved In every other aspect of Our Lives so That's a long answer unlikely Relationships Grace And then engage in the art of persuasion Instead of just simply hanging around People who already believe what you Believe Those three things what I would try I think that's a great list of things to Try especially especially in Holy Week Thank you so much Trey Gowdy for taking The time to join me today Ben God bless You you take care of yourself I'll see You soon

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