Georgian tapped to be Trump’s new defender-in-chief

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, on Capitol Hill in 2013. Photo by Matt Roth.

Credit: Tamar Hallerman

Credit: Tamar Hallerman

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, on Capitol Hill in 2013. Photo by Matt Roth.

Gainesville Republican Doug Collins is in line to take a new job next year as President Donald Trump’s most prominent congressional pitbull.

The three-term congressman was recommended by GOP colleagues on Thursday evening to be the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, the powerful panel that is expected to investigate various White House scandals and mull impeachment proceedings under new Democratic leadership.

lawyer and military chaplain before coming to Capitol Hill, Collins ran for the position with a pledge to work with Democrats on policy issues where there is overlap but also "fight hard for the president and Republican values."

"We can get stuff done if they're willing to work, but if they want to simply showboat or play to their socialist base then that's not going to work," Collins said in an interview earlier this month.

The Georgian will likely butt heads with New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, who’s widely expected to become the committee’s new chairman. After the election, Nadler released a statement concluding that voters wanted “accountability to make sure that our leaders are working for the American people and not in their own self-interest or personal benefit.”

“Americans are tired of watching a Republican Congress fail in its constitutional duty to hold the Administration accountable for policies that rip children from the arms of their parents, that allow domestic abusers and white supremacists to get their hands on deadly firearms without a full background check, that allow voters to be intimidated and their voices suppressed, that enable pervasive corruption to influence decision making at the highest levels of government, and that undermine the rule of law and interfere with the independence of our justice system,” he said.

Collins quickly fired back: “We’re here to remind Mr. Nadler that a House majority doesn’t give liberals license to chase political vendettas at deep cost—and no benefit—to the hardworking Americans who trust us to honor the law first by following it ourselves.”

The Republican's new perch could also put him at odds with Georgian Hank Johnson. The Lithonia Democrat is expected to lead a subcommittee that will give him jurisdiction over the federal judiciary, intellectual property and net neutrality-related issues.

The recommendation to elevate Collins was made by the leadership-aligned Republican Steering Committee, a secretive group that Collins himself has been a member of over the last two years. The full House GOP conference must vote to approve of  the appointment before it can be finalized.

The same panel rejected the campaign of another Georgia Republican, Tom Graves of Ranger, to lead the party on the House Appropriations Committee.

Graves, a former state legislator who has served in Congress since 2010, had pitched himself as a disruptor who would stand up for Trump and conservative interests during government spending negotiations, but he faced off against a trio of more senior opponents. Texas Republican Kay Granger ultimately won the committee’s recommendation earlier Thursday.

Collins had been seen as the favorite for the Judiciary position after racking up a string of bipartisan policy victories and crisscrossing the country to campaign for GOP colleagues while serving as one of the party's main message-makers. But Trump's last-minute meddling in the race on behalf of a vocal ally, former House Freedom Caucus chairman Jim Jordan, had temporarily caused headaches for Collins.

Jordan, R-Ohio, ultimately dropped out of the Judiciary race early Thursday, telling reporters that it had been “made clear to me talking with leadership that I'm not going to get that job.”

Collins also beat out veteran lawmaker Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, for the position.

The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over a wide range of hot-button policy issues, including civil rights, immigration policy and gun control. The majority also has subpoena power and could pursue impeachment proceedings against the president.

After former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying to congressional committees about a Moscow project, Nadler said lawmakers must allow the special counsel’s Russia investigation “to run its course without interference from the President or his allies on Capitol Hill.”

“No one is above the law, not even the President, and our job will be to check his impulse to abuse his office to protect himself,” he said. “We will do everything in our power to allow the Special Counsel to finish his work and follow the facts and the law to their conclusion."

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