Republican Congressman Justin Amash Joins Calls For Trump’s Impeachment

Republican Congressman Justin Amash has always been a rebel within his own party, now he's making that even more apparent.

Michigan Congressman Justin Amash has always been something of a rebel inside the Republican Party. He has opposed the GOP majority on spending issues, on health care reform, and on other issues where you might expect a conservative Republican to fall in line. One of his most notable deviations from the GOP line is on foreign policy, where he has been a frequent critic of the interventionist foreign policy favored by Republicans and a critic of party leadership on that issue and others. He’s also stood out from the crowd in his criticism of the President, which leads us to an epic tweetstorm from the Congressman on the subject of the Mueller Report:

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash became the first Republican lawmaker to declare that President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses and that Attorney General William Barr “deliberately misrepresented” special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Amash, whose libertarian views often put him at odds with Trump and his fellow Republicans, posted a series of tweets Saturday afternoon outlining positions that even some Democrats have been unwilling to embrace — an extraordinary development that comes as Democratic leaders face increasing pressure from progressives to launch impeachment proceedings.

Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” Amash wrote, arguing that lawmakers have become too afraid of using impeachment to deter presidential misconduct.

“Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct,” Amash wrote.

Amash argued that Congress is failing to live up to its constitutional duties in part because of “extreme partisanship” that has worsened under Trump.

“While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct,” Amash said. “Our system of checks and balances relies on each branch’s [sic] jealously guarding its powers and upholding its duties under our Constitution. When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law — the foundation of liberty — crumbles.”

The Michigan Republican also echoed Democrats and hundreds of former federal prosecutors who have argued that Trump would have been charged with obstruction of justice if he were not president — a reference to the Justice Department’s long-standing policy stating that a sitting president cannot be indicted. In his report, Mueller cited that policy when explaining his decision not to charge Trump with a crime.

In addition to the President, Amash also went after Attorney General William Barr, who he accused of misleading Congress and the American public:

In comparing Barr’s principal conclusions, congressional testimony, and other statements to Mueller’s report, it is clear that Barr intended to mislead the public about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s analysis and findings,” Amash said, adding that “Barr’s misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies, which he hopes people will not notice.”

Despite Amash’s frequent opposition to Trump, he is one of the most conservative members of Congress and sits on the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating Trump for alleged financial crimes. His fellow Republicans have maintained that Democrats’ various investigation of Trump are politically motivated and illegitimate, and they’ve largely declared Mueller’s Russia probe to be a settled issue that warrants no further action or investigation.

Amash claimed that most members of Congress haven’t even read Mueller’s report, and he slammed those lawmakers whose minds were made up “within hours” of the release of the redacted version of Mueller’s report.

More from The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Representative Justin Amash, an iconoclastic Republican of Michigan who has considered a run against President Trump in 2020, became the first member of his party serving in Congress to publicly suggest that the president’s conduct had reached the “threshold of impeachment.”

Mr. Amash, 39, used Mr. Trump’s favorite medium — Twitter — to join a groundswell of Democrats who have concluded that the president’s behavior, including instances of potential obstruction of justice laid out in the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, meets the constitutional threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors.

“President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct,” Mr. Amash wrote in a series of messages after reading the redacted version of the 448-page report.

Contrary to the public statements and summaries offered by Attorney General William P. Barr, “Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” wrote Mr. Amash, who has been one of the president’s most outspoken Republican critics.

“In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence,” he added.

Mr. Amash also criticized his fellow lawmakers, writing, “Few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report; their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation.”

A White House spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

Mr. Amash’s statement is likely to complicate his political future: A few hours after his tweets, Jim Lower, a conservative state representative, suggested he might run against Mr. Amash next year.

“This cannot go unchallenged!” Mr. Lower tweeted. Referring to the Third Congressional District, which Mr. Amash represents, Mr. Lower continued, “I support @realDonaldTrump, I support West Michigan values, I support our party’s values and I will have a major announcement regarding MI CD3 this week!”

Mr. Amash’s conclusions track closely with those of many Democrats. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sought to block attempts to impeach Mr. Trump based on the findings of the Mueller report, she declared her openness last week to initiating an impeachment inquiry as a means of forcing administration officials to comply with the subpoenas of the six House committees investigating Mr. Trump’s conduct.

(…)

This is not the first time Mr. Amash, who considers himself a libertarian and strict constitutionalist, has defied the White House and bucked his party’s Capitol Hill leadership. Mr. Amash was one of 14 Republicans to side with Democrats in their unsuccessful attempt to override the president’s first veto, which upheld an emergency declaration to divert funding from other federal projects to build a wall along the southwestern border.

Republican leaders in both chambers have griped privately about Mr. Trump’s behavior but have publicly fallen in line behind the president. Mr. Trump has seized on Mr. Mueller’s finding that his campaign did not coordinate with Russia to declare that the investigation was an exoneration. (In fact, the report stopped short of clearing the president on the question of whether he illegally obstructed justice.)

(…)

Few Republicans, especially House members like Mr. Amash who face re-election every two years, have been willing to confront Mr. Trump publicly. Former Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina has repeatedly criticized the president and questioned his conduct — and his party’s acquiescence to him.

“The idea of some allegiance not to the Constitution, but to the president, was not what I signed up for,” Mr. Sanford told The Washington Post last year.

Over the summer, Mr. Sanford lost the Republican primary race to a Trump ally, Katie Arrington, hours after Mr. Trump called him “very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA.”

Here are Amash’s Tweets:

Not surprisingly, this morning the President took to Twitter to respond to Amash:

As I said above, Amash dissenting from Republican orthodoxy is hardly a surprise. He’s been doing that since he was first elected to Congress in 2010 and, indeed, has campaigned for re-election on the promise that he is in Washington to represent his constituents and protect the Constitution pursuant to his oath of office. It’s a message that has apparently resonated given the fact that, despite several attempts by Michigan GOP insiders in Washington to challenge him in the primaries, he has been re-elected overwhelmingly in each election from 2012 forward. This latest Tweetstorm is likely to increase the pressure he feels from the GOP at the national and state GOP. Indeed, as the Times article notes it already appears that his Tweetstorm may have prompted a political rival in Amash’s Congressional District to run against him next year, assuming Amash runs for re-election.

Amash has been a long-standing Trump critic, so this tweetstorm does not come as much of a surprise. In the past, the Michigan Congressman has spoken out against the Administration’s foreign policy positions and the President’s efforts to use executive power to make end runs around Congress, just as he did when Barack Obama was President. Most recently, he joined House Democrats in voting in support of the resolution to block the President’s declaration of a “national emergency” at the southern border and the unsuccessful effort to override the President’s veto of that resolution. There has also been some speculation that he may decide to forego a re-election bid in 2020 and instead seek the Libertarian Party nomination for President. Given that Gary Johnson has declined to run for the LP’s nomination again and Bill Weld has decided to challenge Trump as a Republican, Amash would be a great catch for the Libertarians, and would likely get them the same kind of generally positive press coverage that the Johnson/Weld ticket got in 2016. In any event. Amash’s bona fides as a critic of the Trump White House and the Republican Party generally are well established, and this is just another great example of that.

Whether he runs for President or not, though, Amash is the only Republican officeholder so far to speak up against the Administration in the wake of the release of the Mueller report, a move that is going to subject him to a ton of criticism from the right that he’s no doubt used to already. That says something good about him, and something bad about the rest of the Republican Party.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Congress, Donald Trump, Impeachment, Law and the Courts, Politicians, U.S. Constitution, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. grumpy realist says:

    Problem is that no other Republican is willing to follow Amash. They’re perfectly happy to tag along with Trump’s “princeps legibus solutus sum!” attitude because they want to get re-elected and are terrified of being primaried from the right by the Trumpenproletariat.

    I keep remembering what Ben Franklin said, when asked as to what the Founding Fathers had produced: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

    So I guess we’re getting to Downfall of the Roman Empire, Version Two. Trump makes an awful Caesar, however. And I don’t see a Brutus showing up, let alone a conspiracy to drag Caesar down.

  2. Scott F. says:

    Good on Rep. Amash, but another vote in favor of impeachment in the House won’t matter in the slightest where there a Dem votes aplenty. Let us know when a Republican Senator budges manages even a modest criticism.

    GOPus delendus est.

  3. Hal_10000 says:

    The very telling thing here is that the response from the Trumpists is basically, “Amash is trying to get praise from the media and the leftists!” or “he just wants attention!”. It’s like they can only understand politics in terms of teams; the idea that Amash might be principled eludes them completely.

    15
  4. Teve says:

    @grumpy realist: there’s a meme going around Facebook right now: “what a time to be alive! it’s like the collapse of Rome, but with Wi-Fi!”

  5. gVOR08 says:

    It’s noteworthy that Amash’s parents were middle eastern Christians, Palestinian and Syrian. Some days that’s gotta be a more awkward fit as a Republican than John Bel Edwards as a Dem.

  6. Mikey says:

    @Hal_10000: Their principles are all blather and bullshit, so they must assume Amash’s are too.

  7. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08: In the past, at least, it often seemed that most of the prominent Arab-American politicians were Republicans: Darrell Issa, John and Chris Sununu, Mitch Daniels. Jeanine Pirro on Fox is of Lebanese ancestry. One exception is George Mitchell; obviously Rashida Tlaib is another. In all these cases, I think it’s religion that’s more crucial than ethnicity. An Arab Christian Republican isn’t that big a leap (at least I wouldn’t put it in the same boat as a pro-life Dem); a Muslim Republican of any ethnicity largely is.

  8. Mister Bluster says:

    There has also been some speculation that he may decide to forego a re-election bid in 2020 and instead seek the Libertarian Party nomination for President. Given that Gary Johnson has declined to run for the LP’s nomination again and Bill Weld has decided to challenge Trump as a Republican, Amash would be a great catch for the Libertarians, and would likely get them the same kind of generally positive press coverage that the Johnson/Weld ticket got in 2016.

    The Libertarian Party will not elect a President of the United States in the next 1000 years. If Representative Amash want’s to help get rid of Supreme Leader and Chairman of the Republican Sex Workers Party Kim Jong Trump he would have a better chance to win the White House by becoming the 24th?…25th? candidate for the Democratic ticket.

  9. Andrew says:

    In the House of Representatives, in the minority, in a district that’s purple enough for him to be worried. Hey, look at that…another Republican using this abomination to the republic for their own gain.

    Unless the calls for impeachment come from the Senate (L.O.L.) this matters none.

  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Hal_10000: Why would Trumpists care about someone having principles? It’s like saying alcoholics have no temperance.

  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Maybe the revolution will be televised.

  12. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: maybe Instagrammed.

  13. rachel says:

    @grumpy realist: Going from Obama to Trump feel a little like going from Marcus Aurelius to Commodus.