U.S Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, speaks to the audience during a town hall meeting on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017 at the Full Blast Recreation Center in Battle Creek, Mich. Amash is embracing the town halls that many of his Republican counterparts in Congress have avoided as people lash out at President Donald Trump’s early actions and the planned repeal of the federal health care law. (Carly Geraci/Kalamazoo Gazette-MLive Media Group via AP) (AP)

Rep. Justin Amash is the first congressional Republican to call for Donald Trump's impeachment

GOP Rep. Justin Amash, who has called himself "the only libertarian in Congress," is urging Trump's impeachment


Matthew Rozsa
May 19, 2019 2:00PM (UTC)

Update: President Donald Trump has posted two tweets in response to Rep. Justin Amash, saying that "Never a fan of @justinamash, a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy. If he actually read the biased Mueller Report, 'composed' by 18 Angry Dems who hated Trump, he would see that it was nevertheless strong on NO COLLUSION and, ultimately, NO OBSTRUCTION...Anyway, how do you Obstruct when there is no crime and, in fact, the crimes were committed by the other side? Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!"

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., has become the first Republican member of Congress to call for President Donald Trump's impeachment.

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The Michigan congressman, who once referred to himself as "the only libertarian in Congress" before adding that "there are maybe a dozen libertarian-leaning conservatives," posted a series of tweets on Saturday explaining that he had read the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report and concluded that President Donald Trump had committed impeachable offenses.

"Here are my principal conclusions: 1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report. 2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. 3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances. 4. Few members of Congress have read the report," Amash posted in the opening tweet. After explaining that he had read the full report, reviewed pertinent statements and testimony and thoroughly discussed the matter with his staff, Amash criticized Attorney General Bill Barr in a pair of tweets by arguing that "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. 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."

After posting subsequent tweets explaining the constitutional grounds for impeachment and arguing that "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," Amash damned his fellow Republicans. In a tweet addressing concerns that presidents could be impeached on spurious grounds, Amash argued that "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." He also insinuated that, if a Democratic president had been found to have behaved in a manner comparable to Trump, his Republican colleagues would have likely supported impeaching him and Democrats would have likely opposed it.

"We’ve witnessed members of Congress from both parties shift their views 180 degrees—on the importance of character, on the principles of obstruction of justice—depending on whether they’re discussing Bill Clinton or Donald Trump," Amash tweeted.

Not surprisingly, Amash's statement has caused him to be denounced by prominent members of the far right.

"Justin Amash should man up and run against Trump or else he isnt serious," tweeted prominent alt right conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec.

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Joel B. Pollak, the host of the Sirius XM show Breitbart News Tonight, tweeted that "@justinamash is a #NeverTrump bitter-ender who has been talking about impeachment for two years."

Charlie Kirk, the founder and president of the controversial conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA, tweeted that "Justin Amash used to be one of my favorite members of Congress. He used to fight for liberty and the constitution. Now he is fixated on adoration from the left & media. He ignores Trump’s WINS on every front. Amash, you have let us ALL DOWN. We will now primary you. You will lose."

At least one conservative scholar, however, has defended Amash's statement.

"Here is some thing those unfamiliar with Congress & @justinamash need to know. He is as intellectually honest as any member of Congress. His conclusions here are not partisan or ideologically driven. He has looked without bias at the evidence. Making this thread truly powerful," Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, tweeted.

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When it comes to policy, Amash has been extremely conservative on a number of key issues, from abortion rights and economic policy to the Affordable Care Act and even providing government relief for victims of the Flint water crisis. By contrast, he has parted ways with the Republican Party on issues like Trump's proposed southern border wall and his Muslim immigration ban, according to Michigan Live. He has also frequently characterized himself as being above partisanship, including pinning a tweet to the top of his profile that quotes George Washington saying, "Let me now...warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally."

Amash has been rumored as a possible Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 2020, with the party's chairman Nicholas Sarwark saying in April that party leaders have attempted to convince Amash to leave the Republican Party fold and run as their candidate in 2020. During an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper in March, Amash refused to rule out the possibility of running for president on the Libertarian ticket, but last month told Michigan Live that he had not "thought through" whether he would run for president, seek a United States Senate seat or even run for reelection to the House of Representatives.

Amash's statement on impeaching Trump puts him in the tradition of libertarian-leaning conservatives who have been willing to criticize the president. These include Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano, who spoke to Salon last year about what he deemed Trump's unconstitutional appointment of Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general, and Austin Petersen, a prominent figure in the Libertarian Party who sought the Republican Senate nomination in Missouri last year and told Salon that he felt the party was "spineless" in not standing up to the president on trade issues.

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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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All Salon Donald Trump Impeachment Justin Amash Libertarian Libertarianism News & Politics

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