Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, announced on Thursday his plans to resign from Congress at the end of June.
In a letter to his constituents, the Utah congressman wrote that he had never planned to stay in Congress for “a lifetime career,” and “knew from day one that my service there would not last forever.” And in a letter to the state’s governor, Gary Herbert, Chaffetz said “it has been a tremendous honor and privilege to serve the people of Utah as a Member of Congress.” Chaffetz announced last month that he did not plan to seek re-election to Congress. He’ll resign on June 30.
Ever since President Trump took office, Chaffetz has faced scrutiny and criticism for his role as chair of a powerful congressional oversight committee. Detractors believed that Chaffetz shied away from exercising his oversight authority to its fullest capacity faced with a Republican president, despite the fact that Trump’s business empire has created a vast potential for conflicts of interest. In February, Chaffetz faced an angry town hall crowd in Utah who chanted “do your job!” at the congressman.
The impending departure raises questions over the House Oversight Committee’s inquiry into the president’s recent, and abrupt, decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.
Last week, the president stunned Washington by firing Comey, who had been charged with overseeing the bureau’s investigation into potential ties between Trump associates and the Russian government. That was followed in quick succession by a report in The Washington Post that Trump had shared highly classified information with Russian officials, and a report in The New York Times that Trump had asked Comey to halt an investigation into his former national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, citing a memo written by Comey as its source.
Shortly after the Times report surfaced, Chaffetz rushed off a letter to the FBI requesting “all memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings referring or relating to any communications between Comey and the President.”
In his letter, the oversight chair wrote that the committee needed to consider “whether the President attempted to influence or impede the FBI’s investigation as it relates to Lt. Gen. Flynn.” On Wednesday, Chaffetz tweeted that he had “officially noticed a hearing for next Wed at 9:30 am ET with former FBI Dir. Comey,” though he added that he still needed to “speak with him.”
It’s unclear exactly what will happen to the panel’s probe once Chaffetz departs. Politico reported on Thursday that GOP Representative Trey Gowdy, who is most well known for once heading up a congressional investigation into the Benghazi attacks, is likely to replace Chaffetz as the chair of the House Oversight Committee.
Washingtonian reported last week that Chaffetz has told House Republicans that his next stop will be in a role at conservative news outlet Fox News.