ALPINE, Utah (AP) — U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s ascent to national prominence leading a House oversight committee was rooted largely in his embrace of the spotlight and willingness to take on confrontations.
But the 50-year-old Utah Republican said this week that he’s stepping aside from Congress next month during the prime of his career and just as his committee was poised to investigate President Donald Trump’s firing of the FBI director.
It’s a probe that could have allowed Chaffetz to prove he was sincere when he promised constituents at a raucous February town hall that his job was “not to be a cheerleader for the president.”
Some political analysts in Utah have suggested the former public relations specialist is making a political chess move to avoid constant attacks about his perceived lack of zeal in investigating Trump and the difficult position those investigations would put him in with his own party, especially if he runs for Utah governor in 2020.
Chaffetz acknowledged the speculation but insisted to reporters that “the overwhelming driving force” of his resignation was a desire to spend more time with family as he realized he was in a mid-life crisis.
“A lot of people will never believe that,” he said. “But that is the truth.”
Jacob Carlson, a 27-year-old college student in Chaffetz’s district who has voted for Republicans and Democrats but leans Republican, said he viewed Chaffetz as a decent politician but was disappointed he did not investigate Trump more vigorously.
“One of my biggest complaints with politics in general is that people play favorites depending on their party,” said Carlson, of Provo. “I hope whoever takes his place will do better than he did at a proper investigation of all that garbage with ties to Russia.”
Chaffetz’s abrupt exit upends the latest of the Republican-controlled congressional investigations into Trump and also marks a sudden halt to Chaffetz’s decade-long climb to power.
Born in California, Chaffetz was raised in Colorado…