Texas in the Year of Our Gohmert, 2019

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, in deep thought at the U.S. Capitol
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, in deep thought at the U.S. Capitol Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
In the aftermath of the 2016 election, as everyone scrambled to figure out what a Donald Trump presidency would look like in reality rather than in their worst nightmares or wildest dreams, one thing no one could have predicted was the rise of a certain East Texas congressman.

Louie Gohmert, to that point, hadn't been good for much more than laughs. He'd waddle out onto the House floor, claiming the personal privilege that belongs to him as a member of Congress, and say something reliably wacky about abortion, guns or his favorite target, illegal immigrants. Often, his comments floated right through the Observer's wheelhouse, so we'd take a swing at them.

Since President Trump's ascension, that's all changed. Gohmert fit right into a political environment that others were slower to understand because he was pre-configured for it. Tact and reason, never Gohmert's strong suits, were no longer important. Neither was having your facts straight when you took the mic.

This year, Gohmert completed his evolution from back-bencher to elder statesman. He served as a reliable talking head during the Mueller investigation and a figure for others to rally around during the debate over impeachment. If you've watched cable news, or paid attention to the Observer's news vertical, Gohmert's been inescapable.

Here are some carefully curated highlights from the year of the Gohmert.

Gohmert, bless his heart, tries his best at a House hearing on reparations. — Gohmert truly spoke truth to power in June, when he took on a House panel made up of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, actor Danny Glover and Sen. Cory Booker on the subject of reparations.

The representative told the panelists something they'd surely never heard before: It was actually the Democratic Party, not the Republican Party, that was the party of slavery!

"It is important that we know our history and we not punish people today for the sins of their predecessors in the Democratic Party," Gohmert said, as a member of the hearing's audience shouted "You lie!" "I just stated all facts and again, we have people who are denying history. That's not helpful to our discussion." The world learns the truth from Gohmert: President Trump isn't obstructing justice, he's pursuing it. — In July, Special Counsel Robert Mueller made his long-awaited appearance in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

Gohmert got five minutes to question Mueller and didn't disappoint. At various points during his time, he introduced an op-ed he wrote for Hannity.com, headlined "Mueller Unmasked," into the congressional record, suggested that one can't obstruct justice if one didn't do anything wrong and obsessed over Mueller's relationship with former FBI director James Comey, who, if he isn't the person most responsible for Trump getting elected president, is at least in the top five.  Want a dumb revolution? Gohmert's got you covered. — As the impeachment inquiry got rolling in October, Gohmert joined up with several of his fellow Trump acolytes to storm a secure room on Capitol Hill and disrupt a deposition being given by Defense Department employee Laura Cooper.

As Cooper was escorted out of the room, Gohmert hopped on a secure phone line and complained to his staff that he couldn't use his cellphone inside what is supposed to be one of the most secure rooms in the United States. According to CNN reporter Manu Raju, Gohmert spent his time in the secure area "yelling in the room and railing on what they call a sham process." Later the same week, Gohmert told Dallas radio host Mark Davis that he knew the name of the anonymous whistleblower who filed the initial complaint related to Trump's alleged leaning on Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

"I don't want to bury the lead here," Davis said. "You know this person by name?"

"Yeah," Gohmert replied.

Davis then asked Gohmert how many other people know the whistleblower's identity.

"I think most everybody in the intelligence community knows who it is," Gohmert said. Gohmert's statements directly contradicted those made by Trump and congressional leadership, in addition to endangering the safety of the anonymous whistleblower.

Two months later, Gohmert would name the person many Republicans believe to be the whistleblower during committee debate about impeachment.

Don't impeach Dear Leader, or you'll get a civil war. — On Halloween, Gohmert took to the House floor to make an appropriately scary speech.

"Never in the history of this country have we had such gross unfairness that one party would put armed guards with guns to prevent the duly authorized people from being able to hear the witnesses and see them for themselves," Gohmert said, after a House vote advancing the impeachment inquiry into the president.

"They want it to be a one-sided, non-due process sham court. It's about to push this country to a civil war if they were to get their wishes, and if there was one thing I don't want to see in my lifetime, I don't want to ever have participation in, it's a civil war. Some historian — I don't remember who — said, 'Guns are only involved in the last phase of a civil war.' What's gone on here is not protecting the Constitution. It's not protecting the institutions, it's not protecting this little experiment in self-government, no. What it has done is put it all at risk." Gohmert reveals his true essence. — "I’m going to use my five minutes, but not to ask questions:" That's how Gohmert began his time, and revealed his raison d'etre, during the Judiciary Committee's first official impeachment hearing. After rambling on about treason — something no one is accusing the president of — and how President Barack Obama was the president who really acted like a king, not Trump, Gohmert made an implied Republican threat explicit.

"This isn't about being fair. It's not about due process. This is about a kangaroo system," Gohmert said. "Let me tell ya, those that think you've done something special here. You have set the bar so low. I’m afraid it’s irreparable. Just think, people already mention the next president, Joe Biden. We’re told, 'Gee, he may be the next president.’ We’ve already got the forms, all we have to do is eliminate Donald Trump’s name and put Joe Biden’s name in there ’cause he’s on video, he and his son. He basically has admitted to the crime that’s being hoisted on the president improperly."

Mean Joe Greene gets dragged into the impeachment process. — Last week, Gohmert confirmed that he doesn't understand the law, world history or sports history.

After claiming that people can't be convicted of crimes — or at least have their convictions upheld — if their victims don't cooperate in the investigation, Gohmert uncorked this doozy.

"To the earlier allegation that 'Gee, even though nobody in the Ukrainian government has said that they were a victim, well, it's because the president had a gun to their head.' Well, that's not the case. The reason that they are not saying that is because they knew that this is the most helpful president that they have had since the Steel Curtain fell," Gohmert said.

The Steel Curtain, as you're likely aware, was the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers' ferocious defense. Maybe Gohmert meant the Iron Curtain, the metaphorical barrier that separated the East from the West during the Cold War, but it's hard to be sure.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young