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20 April 2017, 03:01 | Justin Tyler
FILE Rep. Jason Chaffetz R Utah speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington
But the pending retirement of the Republican chairman of one of the most influential congressional committees has prompted Democrats to declare victory.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who has been a top ally of the Trump Administration in Congress, says he will not run for re-election in 2018.
During the raucous 2016 presidential campaign that pitted Clinton against Trump, Chaffetz distanced himself from the Republican candidate following the public airing of a video past year in which Trump made lewd comments about women. He has also served as chair of the House Oversight Committee since 2015. Chaffetz's panel is investigating payments made to Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, for speaking engagements in Russian Federation and the security protocols at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.
Chaffetz is openly considering a bid for the Utah governorship in 2020-"Definitely maybe", he joked when the subject came up, grinning at his own kabuki coyness-and when I asked him what he thinks Utah voters expect from him as Oversight chairman in the meantime, he said they wanted him to be an "honest broker". "I've always believed that", said Chaffetz, (R) Utah.
If Democrat Hillary Clinton had won the presidency, Chaffetz promised "years" of investigations by his committee - endearing himself to Utahns and Republicans across the nation.
Attorney Damian Kidd, a Republican who had already stepped in to challenge Chaffetz, said hopes the congressman's exit will free up fundraising money.
Chaffetz said on Wednesday morning he was confident he would have been "reelected by large margins", but that he "made a personal decision to return to the private sector". Jason Chaffetz also worked as both the campaign managers and chief of staff for former Utah Governor John Huntsman from 2003 to 2005, according to the House of Representatives website.
Chaffetz has served in Congress since his election in 2008.
Readers, are you surprised at Chaffetz's decision to step aside? Chaffetz repeatedly said, "hold on", and "give me a second", as audience members in a Salt Lake City suburb reacted negatively to almost all of his statements and implored him to "do your job" and investigate Trump.
Chaffetz led high-profile and persistent investigations into Hillary Clinton before the 2016 presidential election but took a tepid approach to Trump's alleged conflicts of interest and ties to Russian Federation. "So, that will get you thinking, what am I really doing", said Chaffetz. According to an intel community source, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has learned that Russian Federation has "kompromat" blackmail material on Chaffetz and has been using it to keep him in line with regard to Trump's Russian Federation scandal. Evan McMullin, an anti-Trump presidential candidate in 2016, has previously floated the idea of challenging Chaffetz for his seat.
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