June 9 (UPI) -- Republican Party leaders have tapped Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to become the next chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee when Rep. Jason Chaffetz steps down at the end of the month.
The decision Thursday by the GOP House Steering Committee, if backed by a full vote of the Republican caucus, would put Gowdy at the helm of one of several congressional panels responsible for investigating part of the ongoing probe into possible Russian election interference and associates of President Donald Trump.
Although the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have staked claim over investigating the Russian interference, at least in the House, questions about whether any administration figures have impeded an independent FBI investigation have come before the oversight committee. Chaffetz has sought answers as to why Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey.
The House Oversight Committee has also taken up Trump's calls to investigate how elements of the ongoing investigation into potential Russian election-hacking have become public. Trump has railed against government leaks of classified information and called on the U.S. Justice Department and Congress to crack down on anyone found responsible.
Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, first came to prominence as the chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, the Republican-led panel that investigated the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya that resulted in the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Democrats excoriated the panel as a witch hunt aimed at hurting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Gowdy's Benghazi committee grew to investigate her use of a private email server while working at the State Department.
"Trey Gowdy possesses the experience and deep commitment to transparency and accountability necessary to be the House's next Oversight chairman," Ryan said in a statement. "He has proven that he will always look out for taxpayers and seek answers from the bureaucracy."
Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., has also tossed his hat in the ring for the committee post.