Twenty years ago, U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy was a federal prosecutor sharing a desk in a windowless basement office. Today, he could be under consideration for the position of U.S. attorney general.
Gowdy, who currently represents most of Greenville and Spartanburg counties in the U.S. House of Representatives, is on President-elect Donald Trump's short list for the country's top prosecutor, according to multiple reports.
Others thought to be under consideration include Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions. Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, a former S.C. attorney general, has said he is also being considered for the position.
Gowdy is currently focused on his work in the House, said press secretary Amanda Gonzalez. The Republican caucus, of which Gowdy is a member, will soon begin doling out committee chairmanships and assignments for the coming legislative session. The Spartanburg Republican was just re-elected to his fourth term in Congress.
Gowdy shot to national notoriety in recent years for his questioning of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about terrorist attacks on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, where his experience as a prosecutor shone through. Gowdy was a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina for six years, followed by 10 years as the 7th Circuit Solicitor in Spartanburg County.
Gowdy took on a wide range of cases in those years in the courtroom. While with the U.S. Attorney's office, Gowdy prosecuted federal narcotics, child pornography and robbery cases, including that of convicted robber and carjacker J. Mark Allen, who was featured on the TV program "America's Most Wanted." As solicitor, Gowdy expanded the circuit's drug court and created a Violence Against Women Task Force and Criminal Domestic Violence court.
Greenville attorney Beattie Ashmore shared that desk in the basement office with Gowdy when they were both federal prosecutors. As speculation swirled Thursday, Ashmore praised his former colleague as "one of the most talented prosecutors I’ve ever worked with."
"He’s a very hard worker. You can see his command of the facts during the Benghazi hearings. He’s fair, he’s hard working, he’s very smart," Ashmore said. "He’s one haircut away from a perfect candidate for the attorney general spot."
Gowdy is one of three South Carolina politicians reportedly under consideration for a position within the Trump Administration. Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster told the Post and Courier Wednesday that he was being considered for attorney general and that Gov. Nikki Haley is being considered for multiple cabinet positions, including secretary of state. Haley met with Trump on Thursday, but little information about that meeting has been released by representatives for Trump or Haley.
David Woodard, a Clemson political science professor and longtime Republican political consultant, said of the three Palmetto State politicians being discussed, Gowdy has the "best resume" for a cabinet position.
"If you wanted somebody who could prosecute, it seems to me that Trey has a great resume and a lot of credibility as the chair of the Benghazi committee," said Woodard, who has worked with Gowdy in the past.
Ashmore said he did not know any more about Gowdy's potential for the role than what had already been reported in the media. but that Gowdy's work through the years had put him in a strong position.
"Trey is a humble, modest guy. Did he sit around the office and say 'I want to be attorney general of the United States?' No," Ashmore said. "But he has continued to work hard and evolve and place himself into contention. That’s just from good, honest hard work over the years. That’s from hard work as a prosecutor, solicitor and as a congressman."