Rep. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy MORE's office said he's not leaving Congress next year, despite comments at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday that left many colleagues with the impression he was calling it quits.
The South Carolina Republican stood up in the room and gave an emotional speech, telling his colleagues he loved them all but that he would not be a candidate for leadership. Instead, Gowdy said he's staying focused on leading the committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, testifies before his panel next month.
“When I’m done with that, I’m going to return to South Carolina where my heart is,” Gowdy told his colleagues, according to a source in the room.
Many GOP lawmakers poured out of the Capitol meeting room, believing that Gowdy had just announced his retirement from Congress. In fact, Rep. John FlemingJohn Calvin FlemingLobbying world Trump wants Congress to delay Census deadlines amid pandemic Meadows sets up coronavirus hotline for members of Congress MORE (R-La.) said on C-SPAN Wednesday morning that Gowdy told members he planned to retire.
“Trey wants to go back to South Carolina, and God bless him for that,” Fleming said on the program.
But others, including Rep. Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsNew spotlight on secretaries of state as electoral battlegrounds GOP divided on anti-Biden midterm message The Hill's Morning Report - Bidens to visit Surfside, Fla., collapse site MORE (R-Texas), who was sitting in the first row at the meeting, said he did not interpret Gowdy's remarks as a farewell speech.
Asked if Gowdy was retiring from Congress, his spokeswoman Amanda Duvall, said, “No, he is not announcing anything regarding 2016.”
Gowdy has made no secret for his distaste for Washington, and the former federal prosecutor is believed to be eyeing a federal judgeship or the governor's office back home.