Gowdy on retiring from Congress: "I would just rather be in the justice system"

Gowdy on retirement

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, shared his plans and motivations for retiring from Congress in a exclusive interview on "Face the Nation."

"I was thinking of doing this two years ago, and Tim Scott talked me out of it. Tim tried this time, but my wife won," said the leader of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "I would just rather be in the justice system."

The four-term congressman also dismissed rumors of serving as a federal judge after his tenure in Congress. Once, Gowdy said, he was open to the idea, but it changed over time.

"I was asked a couple of months ago, and I told Lindsey and Tim: 'Thank you. I'm really grateful for that,'" Gowdy said. "Those two guys remembered that I wanted to be a judge. And they would have advocated for me."

"Tim and I have written a book together," the congressman continued. "We teach a class together at Clemson. I like the practice of law. And I'm going to be content doing some mixture of those three things."

Gowdy said he was optimistic about his party's political prospects for 2018, despite nine Republican lawmakers with chairmanships and a handful of other GOP members announcing retirements.

"I think we're going to hold the House," he said. "There are some chairmanships open. If you really like being in Congress, this is a great time to be here."

The congressman's prediction came in response to a question about whether or not President Trump had changed Washington and if it had any role in his decision to leave politics.  

"Look, he beat a really crowded field of qualified people for the nomination," Gowdy said, "and he won the election that no one thought he would win."

He added: "I have never met or talked to President Trump. I haven't talked to Mike Pence even though we served together."

Before he officially leaves Congress next year, Gowdy said he would like to see his colleagues exert more honesty and be able to disagree without having to always question the motives of others. 

"To have my Democrat colleagues say publicly what they texted to me the day they found out I was leaving," Gowdy said. "Tulsi Gabbard and Kyrsten Sinema were the first two people to text me and said the nicest things when they heard that I was leaving. I would love us to get to the point where we're willing to say publicly what we feel about people privately."