Gowdy: Dem rebuttal doesn't change anything about GOP memo

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," February 6, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Breaking tonight, my exclusive and wide-ranging interview with House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy, the man who wrote the FISA abuse memo, and has been at the center of the most controversial investigations in recent history, has announced he's calling it quits and moving back to South Carolina.


MACCALLUM: They want to know why you're leaving.

REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C., HOUSE OVERSIGHT CHAIRMAN: Two-thirds of your life is in the rearview mirror and you have a third left in the windshield. And how do you want to spend that, what's left? And I don't want to spend it away from my wife, who has sacrificed incredibly for my career.


MACCALLUM: So, will show you the fascinating discussion in its entirety tonight, including Congressman Gowdy's take on the Democrats FISA rebuttal memo, which we could get our eyes on it any moment tonight. And that is where we begin with chief national correspondent Ed Henry. Ed, good evening.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Martha, good to see you here in Washington. New tonight, the clock is now officially ticking, because President Trump has the Democratic memo in his hands so he will decide whether to block some or all of the memo in probably the next five days. The president met late this afternoon with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to begin the process of reviewing the differences between the Republican and Democratic memos and figuring out how much sensitive info should be redacted.

The fact the president is working with Rosenstein shows Democrats like Congressman Adam Schiff had been exaggerating and trying to fan flames of chaos by charging the president was going to fire Rosenstein, and spark a constitutional crisis because of the deputy attorney general's appearance in the Republican memo. As for the Democratic memo, a source that has read it believes a trap, maybe, has been set for the president politically, because it's filled with sources and methods that we've been hearing so much about. Maybe a politically tactical move by Democrats to force the president to either stop the release of their memo or make major redactions.

The New York Times is pushing the secret of FISA court to unseal the underlying documents that led to surveillance of former Trump Advisor Carter Page, whose speaking out first and exclusive with our own Laura Ingraham last night. Then, today on ABC, charging the FBI and the Obama administration shredded the constitution.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the one hand, at one point, you say you are an advisor in the Kremlin, then you are an advisor to Donald Trump.

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: Look, palpable cause based on all the evidence that keeps dripping out, and now it has been further substantiated with the Friday, you know, the first memo, is that it was based on that dodgy dossier, which was, you know, a political stunt.


HENRY: Now, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today introduced a special resolution to disapprove of the Republican memo from Congressman Devin Nunes. That was voted down with the Republican majority. Sarah Sanders, meanwhile at the White House, defended the president's claim that the first memo from last week vindicates him. The press secretary is saying it shows there has been "political bias" in the Russia probe. Martha.

MACCALLUM: Ed, thank you very much. So, tonight at the White House signing off on that Democratic memo, which is essentially Adam Schiff's response to the Gowdy-Nunes memo on abuses in FISA under the -- during the election. There are questions as Ed just raised in his piece about these redactions. Democrats want the memo out there in full, they say, and are bulking at possible White House redactions. But critics say that it is likely that some of those elements were added in, in order to be blacked out. Earlier, I sat down with Congressman Trey Gowdy for an exclusive interview; I asked about those possible redactions.


GOWDY: I think the Democrats are politically smart enough to put things in a memo that require either the bureau or the Department of Justice to say it needs to be redacted. Therefore, it creates this belief that there's something they've hidden from the American people. And keep in mind, this is the same crowd that voted not to release our memo and voted not to gain a lot of this information in the last of 12 months. But unfortunately, we're in an environment where you would include material that you know has to be redacted and you know responsible people are going to redact it just so that question will be asked.

MACCALLUM: In terms of the rebuttal to your memo about the FISA abuse, you read it?

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am.

MACCALLUM: Does it change anything about your memo or does it undercut or disprove anything in your memo?

GOWDY: It doesn't to me. Keep in mind, whoever gets to go, second, it's always better than going first, because you know what you're responding to. Our memo was designed as a notice document to the members of the House Intel Committee on our side that those of us who have seen the underlying material has concerns. And ultimately, it was voted on to release to the whole house, and now its public. But in its infancy, it was designed to notify other Republican members of what we had seen. The Democrat memo does attempt to rebut some of our points, but I think the salient points made by our memo still exist and they're still true. A little bit of it is also just creating so much dust and cloud that people just give up and say, well, you're saying that, and you're saying why I'm just going to tune out. That might be a little bit -- a little part of it too.

MACCALLUM: It seems like the biggest -- one of the big bones of contention would be whether or not the dossier was essential to the approval of the FISA surveillance. You have argued that it was essential, that without it, they would never have received the authorization for the warrant from the FISA court. Do they have -- you said that there's other information about Carter Page. You said, there are basically three things. You have the Yahoo News article, the dossier, and other information about Carter Page. Can they argue that that other information was substantial enough for a warrant?

GOWDY: I would find that interesting because they didn't make that argument to the judge. If you have enough without the dossier, then why did you include the dossier? If you have enough without the dossier, why did you, in your court filing, lead with the dossier? Lawyers don't start with their weakest argument, and you certainly don't start with an argument that you don't need to make and should not have made. So, the fact that you use the dossier tells me, you must've felt like you needed it or else you would not have included it in your court filing.

MACCALLUM: How did they get four rounds of approval for the warrant when it looks like they were coming up with not much at all on Carter Page?

GOWDY: You can you get a renewal if you have a fact corroborated. That fact could be that 'x' went to Russia, that 'x' sent an e-mail, that 'x' corresponded with someone. I think the threshold for a renewal is that you are gaining some information. How material that information is, is in the eye of the judge. My focus is on the initial application because that's where it started the renewals. But also, Martha, keep in mind the information that Republicans argued should have been in the initial application, also was not in the renewals. The bias of some folks who were investigating the president -- the bias of Chris Steele. The fact that he was desperate to do anything to prevent President Trump from winning. That's something that a reasonable tribunal want to know if you're evaluating a source.

MACCALLUM: It definitely does raise questions about the FISA court that they didn't scrape beneath the surface and say, why have you included a news article as part of your substantiation here? Doesn't it raise questions about how they're doing their job?

GOWDY: I think most judges don't rely on newspaper articles. I think they're smart enough to discount that. I kind of blame the person who included it. If that's all you've got it. I mean, that's almost, by definition, hearsay as a newspaper article. Look, if I -- I rarely miss a chance to blame judges, because I used to up here in front of them all the time. I don't blame the judges. I blame the attorneys who are officers of the court. They're not advocates just trying to get a result. You are officers of the court. You have a responsibility to be forthright and honest and candid. And it's not the judge's fault if the material information was not provided.

MACCALLUM: They're trusting that whatever they've been given by the FBI, the Department of Justice is --

MACCALLUM: Well, you have to aver under oath that the underlying material is true to the best of your knowledge. So, there's a relationship between judges and prosecutors where you're going to tell me the truth and you're not going to surprise me, and that happens 99.9 percent of the time, is that relationship, that trust is kept. If I were a judged that had approved one of these applications, maybe I didn't have enough without the -- without the dossier, but I'm going to want to know particularly what the footnote on the sourcing, the financial sourcing of it. Why did you describe it in such a circuitous, opaque way? Why didn't you just tell me? The DNC and Hillary Clinton for America paid for this? Why did you go through all these machinations instead of just saying it in a clear and transparent way? But they didn't.

MACCALLUM: Bob Goodlatte said that he believed that the memo lays out a case for conspiracy. He used the word conspiracy, which is a crime, do you agree with that?

GOWDY: I love Chairman Goodlatte. He is one of my favorite colleagues. A conspiracy is an agreement tacit or otherwise between two people to commit an unlawful act. And I used to do those cases. I never allege a conspiracy when simple incompetence will suffice as an explanation. I don't look for some nefarious motive if incompetence or a lack of protocol will explain it. So, I would not allege that the bureau and the Department of Justice have a conspiracy. I got a really serious question about why they handle things certain ways, but I don't start with conspiracy.

MACCALLUM: So, Sally Yates signed off on these FISA warrants, Andrew McCabe signed off on them, so did Rod Rosenstein. You don't believe that they had any conspiratorial drive in presenting that dossier to get that warrant, to listen in on Carter Page's phone calls because they didn't want President Trump to be elected?

GOWDY: That's such a serious allegation. You would have to have something other than the fact that they were signing documents that led me to draw that conclusion. I'm really troubled by what I've read in the Strzok-Page text. It is manifest bias in a way that I've never seen it before. That troubles me more than the fact that Rod Rosenstein did not feel the need to do independent research to corroborate assertions made in a court proceeding. I just -- if there's no evidence of conspiracy, I am bellowed to accuse and what other.

MACCALLUM: So, Chairman Nunes, who you worked with on this memo, has suggested that there's a lot more to come and that the investigation continues. It looks like the next place that you all are looking at is the State Department during the Obama administration. We know that there was a criminal referral that was made by Senators Graham and Grassley. In it, it includes this: "The foreign source game information to an unnamed associate of Hillary and Bill Clinton who then gave information to an unnamed official in the Obama State Department, who then gave the information to Steele." What do you know about that?

GOWDY: Everything that there is to know about it, and I've known about it for over a month. If you go and read the documents at the Department of Justice, you see it. I'm troubled by it. It is one reason -- I have tremendous respect for Michael Horowitz, who's the Inspector General at the Department of Justice. It's one reason that I reject the notion that the I.G. himself, alone, can investigate the Department of Justice because there is a state component -- State Department component to this. It needs to be investigated. I don't view the investigation in terms of stages. To me, it's just one continuous investigation in pursuit of all relevant facts leading towards the truth. I'm pretty troubled by what I read in the documents with respect to the role the State Department played in the fall of 2016, including information that was used in a court proceeding; I am troubled by it.

MACCALLUM: So, weeks before the election, somebody in the Obama State Department was feeding information from a foreign source to Christopher Steele.

GOWDY: When you hear who the source or one of the sources of that information is, you're going to think, oh, my gosh, I've heard that name somewhere before. Where could it possibly have been?

MACCALLUM: The foreign source?

GOWDY: The domestic source, and I'm trying to think of Secretary Clinton defined him. I think she said he was an old friend who e-mailed her from time to time.

MACCALLUM: Sydney Blumenthal?

GOWDY: That'd be really warm. If you're warm, yes.


MACCALLUM: More to come on that. Still ahead tonight, growing speculation over whether President Trump will sit down with Special Counsel Mueller. Congressman Gowdy shed some light on that coming up next.


GOWDY: The basic question is for a lot of Americans is what crime is Robert Mueller investigating?



MACCALLUM: So, should or will the president end up answering questions by the special counsel? Today's New York Times: "In Russia, inquiry lawyers tell Trump to refuse Mueller interview." The paper claims that they are concerned, the lawyers, that the president might perjure himself. I asked Congressman Gowdy for his thoughts on the probe.


GOWDY: I think you have a Russian investigation, regardless of whether or not there's a dossier. The dossier has nothing to do with the fact that someone tried to hack into the DNC server. Actually, they succeeded in doing so. They've tried to hack into lots of other folk's servers. The access John Podesta's e-mail. The dossier has nothing to do with the meeting George Papadopoulos had in Great Britain. The dossier has nothing to do with the meeting at Trump Tower. The dossier has nothing to do with allegations of obstruction of justice.

Bob Mueller, who, by the way, didn't volunteer, he was asked to do it after a pretty distinguished career. He was asked to do it and he was asked to look into what Russia did and with whom, if anyone, did they do it. And I know people focus on the criminality, it's interesting people finds that you know, much more interesting than something just as boring as did a foreign power try to interfere with our democracy. But I think Bob Mueller, like lots of other responsible people, that's pretty important too. So, he's got a counterintelligence mission. He has a criminal mission, and that criminal mission exists separate -- even if there were no dossier. Everything else, it still exists. So, I think you still have Bob Mueller with or without a dossier.

MACCALLUM: But what do you say to those who say when we had Watergate or Whitewater, the American public understood the crime that was being investigated. The basic question for a lot of Americans is, what crime is Robert Mueller investigating?

GOWDY: I would encourage my fellow citizens -- that's a great question. And I would encourage them to go back and read the charter, read the jurisdiction that created by Mueller. And there's a counterintelligence. What did Russia do to impact our election in 2016? There may or may not be crimes, domestic crimes associated with that, but it's a foreign power trying to interfere with the gears of our democracy. The hack of the DNC server is a crime. The accessing of John Podesta's e-mail is a crime. The attempt to access other servers and e-mail is a crime. So, there is a criminal foundation, if you will, warrants it existence. But there's a counterintelligence jurisdiction for him separate apart from any criminality.

MACCALLUM: I don't have a language in front of me, but I read it recently. The way it was set forth is that it's a national security investigation that investigates the period of the election, and I think when people look at where it appears to be going, there seems to be a lot of focus on obstruction of justice. There seems to be a lot of focus on the Trump Tower meeting, for example, and they wonder whether or not this is an investigation of President Trump and his people, or it's an investigation that looks at something that's a broad problem in terms of foreign governments trying to influence our election process or even our, you know, our corporate process -- you could look at China, you could look at Russia. They feel like this has the tentacles that seem to be heading in the direction of the president and his people.

GOWDY: You know, one of the downsides to being a prosecutor is, you don't get to defend yourself very often. I mean, Bob Miller has never had a press conference; he has never issued a statement correcting newspaper article that guessed what he was doing. So, executive branch investigations have that limitation. There had been two guilty pleas; there are two other indictments.

MACCALLUM: Do you feel that those guilty pleas implicate the president or the campaign in any way?

GOWDY: No. And I think that no offense to the media, but I think the media is hyper-focused on how this has impacted Donald Trump, and I think Bob Mueller is hyper-focused on where are the facts taking me. I mean, I get that President Trump is really interesting from a news standpoint, and lots of reporters and writers are fascinated with whether or not Mueller is going to interview Trump and whether or not -- anything related to the president, they're super interested in. I can just tell you having done it for a living, Bob Mueller is every bit as interested in figuring out how we missed the signs that Russia was trying to interfere with our election. Prosecutors are just wired differently from politicians.

MACCALLUM: Let me ask you this. Do you think there would be at Bob Mueller special counsel investigation if Hillary Clinton were president right now?

GOWDY: Heavens, no. Attorney General Adam Schiff would never, would never investigate it, nor appoint a special counsel. But I mean, one of the reasons I can't wait to go into another line of work is the relativism, that we don't apply the same standard, that Democrats will wail and cry and gnashing teeth over something they think Republicans have done, and they are more than happy to turn a blind eye if their own team does it. So, there's not a snowball's chance in purgatory that Attorney General Adam Schiff -- or Attorney General Loretta Lynch would be looking into a similar fact pattern with Secretary Clinton. I mean, President Obama absolved her of any criminality in her most recent probe before the investigation was over.

MACCALLUM: Well, there are some who believe that there may have been a Russian attempt to influence both sides of the campaign, and that may be where the State Department investigation is going, this foreign source who's sending information to Christopher Steele, that they were, you know, sort of entertained at the notion of coming at perhaps both campaigns. Is that side being investigated enough in this equation, do you think?

GOWDY: It is by Congress, and I cannot speak to special counsel. I'm not supposed to know what he's doing, and I don't know what he's doing. But I can tell you, over the strenuous objections of my Democrat colleagues, we did find out that Chris Steele was relying on Russian sub-sources. So, in essence, the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton were spending money to acquire information from Russian sources to then be used to interfere with or influence or impact the 2016 election. It is an irony that you couldn't make up if you wanted to. I just have been unsuccessful at getting many elements of the mainstream media to be interested in that half of the equation.

MACCALLUM: Do think that President Trump can get a fair hearing in this process?

GOWDY: I do. In the court of public opinion or through the special counsel?

MACCALLUM: Through the special counsel, for starters.

GOWDY: I do. I think Bob Mueller is a former United States Attorney and a Former FBI Director, who has had an otherwise really distinguished legal career, and I don't know of any prosecutor -- first of all, you either have the facts or you don't have the facts. So, even if the prosecutor wanted to "get someone," you've got to have the facts to do it. I mean, we have a jury and a judge standing between an overzealous prosecutor in any --

MACCALLUM: So, we've seen special counsels in the past leave their purview and the investigation has gone for a long time, and the next thing you know, you're investigating a Monica Lewinsky case when the president didn't even know her when the special counsel began his work. So, you don't have any fear of that here? Because of the people involved or --

GOWDY: Do I have a fear that jurisdiction may wander a bit? I think it already has. It's already wandered a little bit. But I would not blame Bob Mueller, I would blame whoever drafted the jurisdiction and the charter that empowered him. And if you look at it, it says matters that may arise from the investigation. What the heck does that mean? I mean, is that a bank robbery in Topeka, Kansas?

MACCALLUM: And that language came from Rod Rosenstein?

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am.


MACCALLUM: So, he became famous for his fiery grilling on the Hill. Up next, Trey Gowdy looks back at some of the most heated moments of his career and who will do it once he leaves?


GOWDY: The dominant question I get every Saturday morning at public is why don't these people go to jail?




GOWDY: Do recall who specifically at the White House rejected Sydney Blumenthal?


GOWDY: Document show he was your most prolific e-mailer on Libya and Benghazi, and my question to you is, did the president -- the same White House that said you can't handle him and can't hire him, did he know?

Secretary Clinton said there is nothing marked classified on her e-mails either sent or received, was that true?


GOWDY: Secretary Clinton said, all work-related e-mails were returned to the State Department, was that true?

COMEY: No, we found work-related e-mails, thousands that were not returned.

GOWDY: Secretary Clinton said her lawyers read every one of the e-mails and were overly inclusive. Did her lawyers read the e-mail content individually?


GOWDY: Well, in the interest of time, and because I have a plane to catch tomorrow afternoon, I'm not going to go through any more of the false statement.

LOIS LERNER, AMERICAN ATTORNEY AND FORMER UNITED STATES FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICE EMPLOYEE: After very careful consideration, I've decided to follow my counsel's advice and not testify or answer any of the questions today.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: She just testified. She just waved her Fifth Amendment right to privilege. You don't get to tell your side of the story and then not be subjected to cross-examination. That's not the way it works. She waved her right to Fifth Amendment privilege by issuing an opening open statement. She ought to stand here and answer our questions.


MACCALLUM: So those are some of the moments that make Trey Gowdy a household name. I asked him what goes through his mind when he looks at those Gowdy grilling's in the famous hearing room.


GOWDY: What really goes through my mind when I watch it is who is that person, because I am never like that outside of either courtroom or congressional hearing room. I'm just never like that. I'd rather make you laugh than make you uncomfortable. So, my wife says it best when they sent her clips, she just says I don't -- who is that person?

MACCALLUM: So who is that person?

GOWDY: It's a job. It's what I think needs to be done. And if you prepare -- and I love to prepare, it's really hard to que somebody for 5 minutes. It's much easier to close him for 5 hours, but 5 minutes? You have to prepare and you have to kind of anticipate where the witness is going and where you want the witness to wind up. It reminds me a lot of what I used to do for a living. In a courtroom, I had no idea what the witness was going to say before they testified. It's a cold cross. At least here, I can google prior statements, I can read their statements, I get to listen to them while other people quiz. It's a lot easier in congress than it was in the courtroom. But 5 minutes is really small amount of time to elucidate the truth, so you better make really effective use of that time. But I -- you know, Koskinen and I had a really interesting exchange once. And he walked up to me afterwards and he was smiling and he said, you know, of every new lawyer, I'm probably going to come hire you. People don't see that off-camera, that it's not personal. It's not -- never had a crossword with Eric Holder on fault out of a committee room. Never. So it's -- I guess I kind of view it as my job, it's what I'm supposed to do.

MACCALLUM: What do you say to those who look at the Louis Lerner's, or the John Koskinen's, or Hillary Clinton, if they feel that she did something wrong with regard with her email and they say, you know, we watch this but we never see any real ramifications. I had an email this morning from a viewer who said, you know, ask him how do people get away with the things that they get away with in his mind.

GOWDY: The dominant question I get every Saturday morning at Publix is why don't these people go to jail? And I just politely have to tell them, no one in the legislative branch can put anyone in jail for anything. You could admit to a crime in this hearing room, and there's nothing as a member of the legislative branch I can do about it. That was my old job. The executive branch gets to charge and prosecute, then gain a conviction.

MACCALLUM: But they're not following through on that then, according to people who are disturbed by what they see.

GOWDY: And in the past, we could always say you got to talk to the Obama justice department. We can't say that anymore because it's the Sessions justice department. So that frustration, whether it's the Clinton Foundation, or fast and furious, or the Irish targeting scandal, that's on the Republican administrations watch right now. The frustration that your viewers feel and the folks that I see back home, we build up expectations that we can never actualize. We should tell people that we're having a hearing to shed light. We're not going to have a hearing to put anybody in jail because I don't have the power to do it. But we don't. We let the expectations get so high, we never meet them, and that leads to frustration and anger, and I would argue creates an environment where you will get an outsider to become president.

MACCALLUM: So is this DOJ going to be any different? You're leaving. Do you think that these issues will have light shed on them and that DOJ will follow through and that people will get a different result?

GOWDY: I don't know whether they'll get a different result because I don't know the facts. But to the extent that the Loretta Lynch justice department ignored things or ask that they be called a matter or not an investigation or other things that are just far into those of us in the justice system, we have no one to blame but ourselves. President Trump got to pick the attorney general, he got to pick the dag, he got to pick the head of the FBI. There should never be a political consideration in a prosecution, but if facts had existed six years ago that warranted prosecution then they still exist. And I would expect the justice department to do it, but I would expect them to do it in a political way and just follow the facts.

MACCALLUM: Will you stay on as chair of oversight until you leave?

GOWDY: Unless Paul or Kevin asked me not to, and neither one of them has said that. I want to serve in whatever capacity Paul and Kevin want me to.

MACCALLUM: Who do you think should succeed you as chairman of oversight?

GOWDY: Almost anyone would be better. So.

MACCALLUM: Why do you say that?

GOWDY: I just -- being a chairman or chairperson is a tough job. You've got to balance a lot -- you just don't get to spend your 5 minutes quizzing a witness. There are lots of other things that goes in being a chairperson. I wish Jason had stayed, quite frankly, on a personal level, but he was good at it, he enjoyed it. I had never run for a chairmanship before. And absent Paul and Kevin telling me to take a look at it, I would have gone the rest of my career without running for one either.

MACCALLUM: Did it weigh on you in your decision-making that you were the ninth GOP chair to step down, and the 34th, I think, GOP member of congress to say that you're not running again?

GOWDY: What weighs on me is a first grade school teacher, and South Carolina, and my mom. Those two people have more influence on me than the entire U.S. house and the entire U.S. senate. And I love Tim Scott. Tim Scott has tremendous influence on me, but even he can't get me to do something that my mom and my wife and other people in my life are at peace with. And he tried, but it's time for me to go home and do something that I really, really enjoy doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MACCALLUM: Coming up, Congressman Gowdy answers the question that is on everybody's mind. Why is he leaving Capitol Hill and why did he turn down what he called his dream job that clearly could have been his?


MACCALLUM: You were offered a couple of times the fourth circuit appeals court judgeship. Why would you turn that one down?



MACCALLUM: Back now with South Carolina congressman, Trey Gowdy, as he gets personal, sharing what he says is the real reason that he has decided to leave all of this behind and addressing the rumors that he might become the next speaker of the house, or perhaps a federal judge, something he says he has always wanted.


GOWDY: I don't know. That was always my dream job, Martha. If you've asked me ten years ago -- I got a text this morning for a friend of mine saying have you lost your mind? That was always your dream job. And again, my wife is the biggest influence in my life. And it's one thing to pursue something not thinking you're going to get it, but when Lindsey and Tim said if you want this, we can get it for you. It makes you evaluate would I'd be good at it? Will I'd be happy doing it for the next 15 years? And for every really interesting constitutional question you get or criminal case, you may have 15 antitrust cases that just make your eyes glaze over. So my wife's name is Terry, and Terry says, you love interacting with people, you like teaching at a college class, you like being an advocate, you don't get to do any of that if you're a judge. So I told Lindsey and Tim, thank you, but go find someone else, and they found someone fantastic for that, and I'm at peace with it.

MACCALLUM: So described for us what you will be doing.

GOWDY: Practicing the law with.

MACCALLUM: Privately.

GOWDY: In private practice with some -- they happened to be female lawyers that have been incredibly supportive of me throughout my career, my chief of staff and some others. We're going to try to practice law on the civil side. Tim Scott and I teach a class together, which I love. We've written a book together that I won't mention or try to sell, but we've written a book together. I really -- he's my favorite person in politics and I enjoy doing things with him. And, I don't know. I may speak if somebody needs a poor, washed up speaker for some event. I may do that. But I won't ever run for office again. And when you leave politics, to me, it's important that you leave.

MACCALLUM: Do you think everybody should leave? Should there be term limits?

GOWDY: You know every time I say that, I think about folks like Paul Ryan that I think is really uniquely gifted. And I think on balance, I think our framers had it about right that you would serve for a season and go home. But if everyone is not going to abide by that, then I'm not sure you should force really talented legislators -- there are some on the Dems side too, but Paul leaps to mind because he has a unique skill set.

MACCALLUM: He talked about leaving. Do you think he will?

GOWDY: Eventually he will. But we celebrated his birthday, I guess last Monday night. It's a pretty small group of us. I tried to quiz him on it. I'm not a good enough lawyer to get the answer out of him. He tells me he's staying, and I believe him.

MACCALLUM: The question that seem to be on a lot of people's minds because I asked them, what would you like to hear from Trey Gowdy, is why? People feel that you represent something on the hill that speaks to them in a way that they feel is effective, and they want to know why you are leaving.

GOWDY: Well, first of all, thank them for asking that question.

MACCALLUM: No, not everyone feels that way, of course.


GOWDY: I'm glad my mom and my wife reached out to you and ask that. It's just the right time. I've enjoyed it. It's been great seven years. I've met people I would never have met and done things I never could have imagined. If you've seen my grades in college and law school, you would be stunned that I was in the House of Representatives. So it's been amazing. But, Martha, it's just time for me -- I don't want to sound morbid, but Tim Scott is the one who put this in perspective for me. Two-thirds of your life is in the rearview mirror and you have a third left in the windshield, and how do you want to spend that, what's left? And I don't want to spend it away from my wife who has sacrificed incredibly for my career. My kids, one is graduating law school, one claims she wants to go. My parents are still alive, thank the Lord. But my wife's parents, we lost both of them since I've been in congress. So, it's partly a lifestyle decision and partly I am just more comfortable in the justice system. I just like it more. It fits my heart better.


MACCALLUM: So still ahead with Trey Gowdy, the man behind the congressional seat and the people behind him when we come back.


GOWDY: I don't think winning is the ultimate objective. I think the ultimate objective is to lead an honorable life.




GOWDY: I think the manner in which we get places matters. And in politics too often winning is the only thing that matters. Look, every hero I have has lost. Every one of them.


MACCALLUM: So we wanted to know, who are these heroes that he is referring too.


GOWDY: Well, Jesus lost a voice vote to a guy name Barabbas. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was put to death. Abraham Lincoln lost more races than he won. How you conduct yourself matters. And we're in a society and a culture that values winning. Professional wrestling is really popular. Cheating to win, getting away with committing penalties. I think the way we do things matters. And following a process that is fair -- that is the justice system. You can have a guilty person, if you don't follow the right process there's a punishment for it. And in politics, if I were to allege something against you and we're in a race against each other, you know, whether it's true or not, my pang of moral conscience, but the objective is to win. And I don't think winning is the ultimate objective. I think the ultimate objective is to lead a honorable life.

MACCALLUM: What do you say to people who say you represent something to them that they feel needs to exist in Washington because it sounds to me from what you're saying that you think politics is ugly and self-serving. Don't we need people who don't believe that that's the aim of it in order to make it better?

GOWDY: And we have. They just don't get a lot of air time. John Ratcliffe from Texas is one of my favorite human beings on the face of the earth. Tim Scott is one of the best people I have ever met. Tulsi Gabbard came in sat by me both yesterday and again today. We don't agree politically, but she's one of my favorite people. Joey Kennedy came and spoke to me last night. I have incredible respect for Joey. There is not a harder working person in congress. But look at what happened last week. Here is a former prosecutor, hardworking, and the focus was on whether or not he had more Chap Stick than he should have had.

And I just -- that's the environment that we're in now. And, you know, I can't change it. It's not going to do any good for me to sit around and criticize it. There are good people in public service, but too often -- Well, I'll tell you what I tell people back home. I ask them, have you ever heard of Anthony Weiner? They all have. And I said you ever heard of Phil Roe? We haven't heard Phil Roe. Saved a man's life at Charlotte Douglas Airport, member of congress, physician, nobody's heard of him. So that's the culture we live in. There are good people in public service on both side of the aisle.

MACCALLUM: Aren't you afraid that you won't be able to have an impact on the country? The people that you sighted all had such a tremendous impact on this country. Does it bother you that you might be out of the arena?

GOWDY: Whatever comes after me is going to be just more than fine. Our district has a lot of people that can do this job, and a lot of people that can do it perhaps better than I've done it for the last seven years. I think ultimately, Martha, I'm going to be judged on what kind of husband, what kind of father, what kind of friend, what kind of son, what kind of brother to my three sisters, I think ultimately that's what people are going to remember. And I've had eight years. Most people don't get eight years in the House of Representatives. And every teacher I've ever had is shocked that I got eight years. There's nothing in my background that suggested to them.

MACCALLUM: You're not alone.


GOWDY: Well, and look at you.


GOWDY: There are lots of ways to impart culture. And, you know, quite candidly, when you sit there and think, who are the leaders of the conservative movement and the Republican Party, the names that leap to your mind really aren't elected officials. They're folks that are either in the media or in culture. So there are other ways to drive the national discussion and be part of it without holding office.

MACCALLUM: All right. Last question, I looked up a list of member of congress who went on to become Supreme Court justices in history. It's pretty long list. Is that something, after several years in the private sector and time at home, that you would consider?

GOWDY: The Supreme Court of the United States or the.

MACCALLUM: Yes, the United States.

GOWDY: What an awesome job. But I think, unfortunately, the way politics is now, once you have been associated with the political process, it's really hard to wash that off. It would take a long time. And -- I mean, I love the law. I love it much more than I ever loved politics. I love it, but I'm also not naive. The first rule of friendship is you don't ask friends to do that's not on their best interest. We're a 51/49 center right now. So, you know, I've got to ask Lindsey and Tim Scott and Tom Cotton and Cory Gardner and Ben Sasse to go to battle and defend me against all the groups that all they can remember that I was on the committee called Benghazi. I would not ask my friends to do that. If something changes in ten years and the president called me, I would say, let me come help you come up with a list of people that would be really good, but don't put me on the list.


MACCALLUM: We'll be right back.


MACCALLUM: That is "The Story" for tonight. If you missed any of the interviews, you could go to foxnews.com, click shows, and then "The Story." We love to hear your thoughts on any of it. Send us an email or a tweet. Tucker Carlson is coming up next. Have a great night, everybody. We'll see you back in New York tomorrow at 7.

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