A group of top Republicans have a message for outgoing Jason Chaffetz: It’s time to relinquish the House Oversight Committee gavel.
Several senior GOP lawmakers are quietly encouraging Jason Chaffetz to step down from his lead soon, even though the Utah Republican doesn’t plan to resign from Congress until June 30. While his retirement announcement Thursday stated nothing about his future work, Chaffetz has told lawmakers he’ll leaving for Fox News.
But GOP insiders say Chaffetz has been reluctant to let go of his panel’s leadership before he leaves Congress — and now he’s thrown himself into the thick of the Russia scandal that’s consuming Washington. It’s made for an uncertain transition at the committee and a sore subject for House Republicans.
“If the chairman is on his way out … he should step down and allow the Steering Committee to move immediately to appoint a new chairman,” said Rep. Steve Womack, who sits on the Steering panel, which selects committee chairmen. “Sooner, not later.”
Critics are angry that even as Chaffetz was planning his retirement, he summoned newly fired FBI Director James Comey to testify before his panel next week. Chaffetz said he needs to question Comey about claims that President Donald Trump tried to pressure him to drop an investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
The explosive hearing announcement — and Chaffetz’s threat to subpoena related FBI documents should they refuse to hand them over — has annoyed a number of GOP lawmakers. They worry that a major chairmanship transition in the middle of a high-profile probe of the president’s actions could create confusion at the committee.
These sources believe it would make more sense if a new chairman took the lead before the committee’s Comey probe takes off.
“Chaffetz is job-hunting when he should be doing the people’s business,” said one Republican who asked not to be named.
Chaffetz quitting looks good, but he seems like deep state has his leash.