By: Oren Dorell (USA Today)
Colleagues of the House Republican who will head an expansive committee into Benghazi say he has a reputation as an attack-dog questioner and a prosecutor's talent for getting to the bottom of complex matters.
In just three years in the House, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina has become a favorite of conservatives who believe the Obama administration politicized the intelligence in the attack that left four Americans dead.
At the same time, some Democrats say he may be far too partisan to chair a select committee in which he must handle the investigation with even-handedness.
"Trey Gowdy is as dogged, focused and serious-minded as they come," House Speaker John Boehner said in announcing him as chair of the committee. "His background as a federal prosecutor and his zeal for the truth make him the ideal person to lead this panel."
Gowdy began serving in Congress only in 2011 and has made a name for himself by going after top administration officials with the same fervor he once reserved for murder convicts he sent to death row as a prosecutor in South Carolina, colleagues say.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., who sits next to Gowdy on House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said Gowdy "has the respect of both Republicans and Democrats and will be trusted to get to the truth."
Gowdy, 49, graduated from Spartanburg High School in 1982 before going on to Baylor University, where he received a degree in history. He got his law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1989.
He spent six years as a federal prosecutor in which he handle cases such as narcotics trafficking rings, bank robberies, child pornography cases, and the murder of a federal witness, according to his official biography. As 7th Circuit Solicitor, he led an office of 25 lawyers and started a Violence Against Women Task Force, expanded drug courts and implemented a Drug Mother Protocol to help expectant mothers end their addictions. He is married with two children.
In a statement, Gowdy said further investigation on Benghazi is necessary because 20 months after the attack, questions remain about why security was inadequate, the U.S. response "during the siege," and the government's public stance on the attack after if was over.
"All of those lines of inquiry are legitimate and should be apolitical. Facts are neither red nor blue," he said. "While people are free to draw different conclusions from the facts, there should be no debate over whether the American public is entitled to have all of the facts."
As a House representative, once Gowdy gets started, "it's hard to hide from the question," DesJarlais said. "Politicians and witnesses sometimes are trained to give evasive answers. He has an innate ability to evoke the truth."