Former U.S. Attorney John Wood stepped down as lead investigator for the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 this summer to launch an independent Senate bid in Missouri.
Last week, Wood told the Kansas City Star it was the candidacy of former Gov. Eric Greitens leading the GOP primary that motivated his third-party run for the open seat left vacant by retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt. Wood, however, will stay in the race after Greitens’ political comeback was derailed by Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who captured the GOP Senate nomination earlier this month.
“That equation is taken out of it, but the message that I have is really the same,” Wood told the local paper. “I think aside from those personal flaws of Greitens, I don’t really see much difference between Schmidt and Greitens. They’re both on embracing the extreme divisive rhetoric and symbolism.”
Greitens, who resigned the governorship in 2018 after accusations surfaced of sexual misconduct, failed to earn more than 19 percent of the vote in the Aug. 2 primary. Schmitt won the Republican contest with more than 45 percent, and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler came in second with just more than 22 percent.
Until late June, Wood served as a chief legal adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s committee to persecute political dissidents ostensibly established to investigate the Capitol riot. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who overwhelmingly lost her re-election bid to Trump-backed attorney Harriet Hageman on Tuesday, is vice chair of the House panel. Wood is a close friend of the Cheney family and formerly worked in the second Bush administration with stints at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Schmitt has been a critic of the Jan. 6 Committee, calling the panel’s show trial presentations in June a “joke” serving as an “intentional distraction from Joe Biden’s failures.”
At DHS, Wood worked as chief of staff to Secretary Michael Chertoff. In 2016, Chertoff endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and has remained a reliable NeverTrumper with a follow-up endorsement of President Joe Biden two years ago. The Republican Party, Chertoff claimed, had been “hijacked.” While Wood worked for Chertoff, Cheney’s husband, Philip Perry, was the department’s general counsel.
Wood’s Senate campaign is now being financed by another alumnus of the Bush administration, former Missouri Sen. John Danforth, who was President Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations between 2004 and 2005. In July, Danforth’s super PAC launched a $750,000 dollar ad blitz and announced plans to raise anywhere from $20 to $40 million for the fall campaign.