Rep. Trey Gowdy won't seek reelection, may return to justice system

Rep. Trey Gowdy announced Wednesday that he will not run for reelection.

"There is a time to come and a time to go. This is the right time, for me, to leave politics and return to the justice system," he said in the statement posted to Twitter.

Gowdy became a household name for chairing the House select committee on the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi.

His near laser-like focus on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won him accolades from hardline Republicans and scorn from democrats.

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Congressional lawmakers not seeking re-election come 2018
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Congressional lawmakers not seeking re-election come 2018
Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) 
Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)
U.S. Republican Representative Darrell Issa
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-CA)
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA)
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA)

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas)

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) 

Rep. Dave Trott (R-Mich.)
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)

Rep. John 'Jimmy' Duncan (R-Tenn.)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) 

(Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) 

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Washington)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico)

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio)

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-New Jersey

Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Florida

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Rep. Pat Meehan, R-Pa.

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Sen. William Larkin (R-NY)
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Gowdy pressed for the prosecution of Clinton during the 2016 campaign, citing her use of a private email server while running the State Department.

Gowdy joins the ranks of eight fellow powerful GOP committee chairmen who have announced they will not run for reelection.

That represents a larger movement in Congress.

So far, more than 50 of the House’s 435 members have announced they are leaving Congress — 35 Republicans and 16 Democrats.

“Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system,” he said.

It’s unclear exactly what the 53-year-old has planned for the future.

The Hill noted that a vacancy on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over South Carolina, opened up just one day before Gowdy announced his retirement.

RELATED: High-profile Congressional Republicans

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High-profile Congressional Republicans
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High-profile Congressional Republicans
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Senator Lindsey Graham
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AL)
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
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