House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy lashed out at the Trump administration Tuesday over the “drip, drip” in the ongoing Russia controversy, sarcastically suggesting that officials get checked for amnesia about any contacts with Russia.
The South Carolina Republican first appeared on Fox News Tuesday night expressing concerns about email traffic showing that Donald Trump Jr. was not only aware that the Russian government was gathering intelligence on Hillary Clinton to help his father’s election, but that he also knowingly met with a Kremlin-backed lawyer claiming to want to share incriminating documents with the Trump campaign.
“If you had a contact with Russia, tell the special counsel about it! Don’t wait until the New York Times figures it out!” an exasperated Gowdy said in a brief interview outside the Capitol Tuesday.
Gowdy said the “somebody needs to sit everybody down” to find out what happened.
"Someone needs to get everyone in a room and say, from the time you saw ‘Dr. Zhivago’ until the moment you drank vodka with a guy named Boris, you list every single contact with Russia," Gowdy said, referring to the 1965 movie.
Gowdy, however, maintained his long-held argument that it’s Justice Department special counsel Bob Mueller’s job — not his — to probe the matter. The chairman has said he and his Oversight panel will not interfere or overlap with Mueller in any way.
“Congress is not the place to litigate legal issues,” he said Tuesday.
Gowdy, frustration evident, suggested the Russia matter has become a distraction for Hill Republicans.
“I don’t want to talk about it at all,” he admitted.
“There is a political component to it, which is: Here you are in mid-July asking me about Russia, and it’s not your fault that you’re doing it, but that’s how another week is starting here, so that’s a political concern,” he said. “You’re not here to ask me about infrastructure or tax reform or anything about that.”
Gowdy said he couldn’t tell if the email traffic was proof that something illegal had occurred, such as collusion. He said all the facts needed to be gathered and “you’ve got to interview the witnesses” first.
“There is no way to make that conclusion … on the face of that email,” he said.
Gowdy is helping lead the House Intelligence Committee’s probe of Russia’s interference in the election and whether there was any collusion between Moscow and Trump aides. But he said he’d never seen the email.