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Chaffetz resignation latest twist in GOP oversight of Trump

21 May 2017

As the head of the House's main investigative committee since 2015, Chaffetz became a prime critic of President Barack Obama's administration and, crucially, former secretary of state and presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Jason Chaffetz, a top House Republican who asked the Department of Justice to investigate President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, announced Thursday that he is resigning in June.

That looked like it was changing this week when reports emerged that former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey had taken notes after Trump privately asked him to end a probe into his former National Security Adviser before firing Comey.

A new poll shows most Utahns want all voters to decide the nominees to replace Chaffetz, not just party delegates.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Thursday that he will leave Congress on June 30, citing "big changes in his life" in a public letter to constituents.

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Chaffetz announced in mid-April that he would not be running for reelection in 2018 to "return to the private sector", and mere days later said he hadn't "ruled out the possibility of leaving early".

Mr. Chaffetz's announcement came a day after he tweeted that he had invited ex-FBI Director James Comey to testify next week at a hearing of the oversight committee he leads.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday said his office is making plans to hold a special election to fill Chaffetz's seat - only the second time in state history a congressional vacancy has occurred.

Pope said though Chaffetz has hinted at re-election in a few years, he probably won't be re-elected to his seat.

The House Oversight Committee he heads is one of several congressional panels looking into aspects of Russia's alleged attempts to influence the US presidential election.

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Leaders of the Utah Legislature have loudly objected to the governor proceeding with a special election without first convening lawmakers for their input.

After Trump won, liberals hammered him for not going after Trump's administration with almost the vigor used against Democrats.

"I think he would have a pretty good shot at it", said Rep. Douglas Collins, R-Ga., the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference. On Thursday, the Republican Gowdy released a statement saying he was talking to other members about the chairmanship.

He is on his fourth term in the House of Representatives and he also serves on the House Judiciary Committee. But they'll face an uphill battle in Chaffetz's heavily Republican district, which stretches from Salt Lake City's southeastern suburbs to desert towns in southeastern Utah and includes heavily conservative Mormon areas.

"A lot of people will never believe that", he said.

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