Two of the men now working to defend President Donald Trump against the House impeachment inquiry held very different views on the power of Congress to investigate the executive branch when they were lawmakers.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and former representative Trey Gowdy, who joined Trump's legal team on Tuesday, were both staunch defenders of congressional oversight as members of the House select committee on the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Now, they are defending a president who has barred a key witness from testifying and whose lawyers told Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter Tuesday that they will not cooperate with the inquiry because there hasn't been a formal vote on impeachment, an act that is not required under the Constitution.

"The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress, no matter whether you're the party in power or not in power is wrong," Gowdy said during one investigation of the Obama administration. "Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."

And during the two-and-a-half year congressional inquiry into the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, the two Republicans harshly criticized the Obama administration, arguing that it was stonewalling when it failed to turn over documents to Congress or limited access to witnesses.

Benghazi was "worse in some ways" than Watergate, Pompeo argued on "Meet the Press" in 2015, when he was a congressman from Kansas. In an addendum to the probe's final report, he wrote that it was a cautionary tale of an administration that "so blinded by politics and its desire to win an election, disregarded a basic duty of government: Tell the people the truth."

Pompeo remained tight-lipped as the current scandal unfolded until admitting on Oct. 5 that he had been on the July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, arguing that the media was "caught up in some silly gotcha game."

Gowdy, a former prosecutor from South Carolina who as the chairman of the House Oversight Committee often made sweeping statements about the proper functioning of government in the Benghazi investigation and others, has already seen some of those old comments resurface.

One of them came from a 2012 hearing on holding Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents in the investigation of the "Fast and Furious" gun-running sting operation.

In that inquiry, Gowdy argued that President Barack Obama had erred for going on television to argue that there was nothing wrong with the operation, praising Holder for not doing the same during an appearance before Congress.

"I wish the president would also follow your advice because when he said there is not a smidgen of corruption on national television talking about an ongoing investigation, not only did he undermine people's confidence in the efficacy of that investigation, in my judgment, he undermined your department, because you cannot comment on it," Gowdy said.

In the Benghazi investigation, he argued that the Obama administration was trying to run out the clock, wasting time over providing access to information that Congress was entitled to.

"All along I have been happy to skip the drama and get the documents, but in the process we've got lots of drama and not all the documents," he said in 2016.

He also attacked Adm. Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had led the State Department's own investigation into Benghazi, over an email in which he said that Deputy Assistant Secretary Charlene Lamb, who had little experience before Congress, could be "difficult," even though she ended up testifying in the end.

"From our perspective, there are neither good nor bad witnesses; there are witnesses," Gowdy said about the email. "And if she is in possession of facts that Congress might be interested in, she's a witness we need to hear from."

And during the inquiry into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of private email, he criticized a former technology aide to Clinton, Bryan Pagliano, who invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in a deposition.

"The witness does not get to pick and choose which legal process you are going to follow or which one you are not," he tweeted.

In a separate investigation into Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, in which Republicans debated impeaching him, Gowdy argued that impeachment was essentially a punishment - "the ultimate penalty" - that Congress can levy against officials who refuse to provide information to Congress.

"What Congress really wants is access to the documents and the witnesses, because that is the lifeblood of any investigation, you cannot conduct an investigation if you don't have access to the documents and the witnesses," he said. "We know that. Unfortunately those who seek to not be investigated also know that."

That impeachment power, he argued, didn't even depend on finding a criminal violation.

"The notion that you can only impeach someone who commits an actual violation of the criminal code is nonsense," he said. "There are lots of ways to screw up in your job that don't rise to the level of meeting the U.S. criminal code."

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