Former GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy joins Trump's impeachment defense team

Gowdy stepped down from Congress in 2018 after serving eight years.

— -- Former South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, a colorful congressman who led the Republican investigation into Hillary Clinton and the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, will help defend President Donald Trump as he faces the Democratic-led impeachment investigation.

"I am pleased to announce that former Congressman Trey Gowdy is joining our team as Counsel to the President. I have known Trey for years and worked with him when he served in Congress. His legal skills and his advocacy will serve the President well," Jay Sekulow, one of the president's personal lawyers, said in a statement Wednesday night.

"Trey’s command of the law is well known and his service on Capitol Hill will be a great asset as a member of our team," Sekulow said.

It was unclear what specific role Gowdy would play in the current White House strategy of not cooperating with the investigation, but when word got out that he was being considered, a television clip from 2012 surfaced showing him saying it is "wrong" to withhold documents from Congress regardless of politics.

"The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress, no matter whether you're the party in power or not in power is wrong! Respect for the rule of law must mean something irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles!" Gowdy said during a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

A former federal prosecutor, Gowdy, known for his dramatic speaking style and appearance, was first elected to the House in 2010, riding the tea party wave.

In a statement, Gowdy said that he would return to practicing law instead of seeking a fifth term.

Gowdy was often criticized by Democrats for how he conducted the investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attacks, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released a statement slamming Gowdy for just that.

"Rep. Gowdy’s tenure in Congress made a mockery of Congressional oversight and his eagerness to use the deaths of brave Americans overseas in service of his partisan, political goals is a dark and shameful chapter in the history of the House of Representatives," DCCC Deputy Communications Director Patrick Burgwinkle wrote.