Michigan's Amash says Trump conduct is ‘impeachable’

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
Congressman Justin Amash tweeted Saturday that he has read the entire redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report. He’s the first Republican to break with Trump over the Russia probe, but he’s often a lone GOP voice in Congress.

Washington – U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, a West Michigan Republican, announced Saturday that he believes that President Donald Trump “has engaged in impeachable conduct.”

Amash, who represents the Grand Rapids area, said in a series of tweets that he had finished reading the entire redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report.

"Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment," Amash wrote. 

"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."

Amash is the first GOP member of Congress to publicly break with Trump over the results of the Mueller probe, though he's long criticized Trump.

A libertarian Republican in his fifth term, Amash has long eschewed partisan loyalties. He said earlier this year he had not ruled out running for president as Libertarian

"In some respects this is nothing new for Justin Amash," said David Dulio, who chairs the political science department at Oakland University.

"He has bucked the party, and I’m sure is frustrating to leadership for probably as long as he’s been in Congress. This is probably going to change nothing with any other Republican," Dulio added. 

"And while significant, it’s also meaningless because until (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi decides she wants to take up some kind of impeachment proceedings, it’s not happening."

Mueller found no criminal conspiracy between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, but left open the question of whether Trump obstructed the investigation.

Attorney General William Barr later concluded there was insufficient evidence to bring obstruction charges against Trump.

Republican leaders in Congress in recent weeks said "case closed" in response to the Mueller investigation and mocked Democrats for “grieving” the result. Other Republicans in Michigan's delegation have also said it's time to "move on." 

"It’s finally over,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor last week, calling Mueller’s findings “bad news for the outrage industrial complex but good news for the rest of the country.”

It's unclear whether Amash's break could prompt Trump or national Republican leaders to target his seat — a solidly conservative district in West Michigan — with a primary challenger in 2020. 

In response to Amash's comments Saturday, GOP state Rep. Jim Lower implied he would jump into the race: 

“This cannot go unchallenged! 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!” Lower tweeted. 

Ronna Romney McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, on Saturday said "it's sad to see Congressman Amash parroting the Democrats' talking points on Russia."

"The only people still fixated on the Russia collusion hoax are political foes of President Trump hoping to defeat him in 2020 by any desperate means possible," McDaniel said in a statement.

"Voters in Amash’s district strongly support this President, and would rather their Congressman work to support the President's policies that have brought jobs, increased wages and made life better for Americans."

Laura Cox, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, called Amash's remarks "shameful." 

“While President Trump’s leadership has led to the strongest economy in a generation, Justin Amash has opposed his ‘America First’ agenda every step of the way," Cox tweeted. 

"Now in a desperate attempt to grab headlines and advance his own presidential ambitions, Amash is peddling a narrative that has repeatedly been proven false."

A few Democrats, including Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, want the House to start impeachment hearings, but Speaker Pelosi of California insists impeachment be bipartisan.

Tlaib on Saturday praised Amash and urged him to co-sponsor her impeachment resolution.

"You are putting country first, and that is to be commended. We both took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution," Tlaib tweeted. "Please let me know if you are interested signing on to the resolution to begin the investigation into impeachment."

Amash, an attorney by trade, said on Twitter that impeachment does not require probable cause that a crime such as obstruction of justice was committed.

He wrote, "it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct."

"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 wrote. 

"When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law — the foundation of liberty — crumbles," he added. 

"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 said Saturday that "partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances."

He suggested that few members of Congress have read the full report, as "their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation," as was clear by the "definitive" statements they issued within hours of the report's release. 

"America’s institutions depend on officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system even when to do so is personally inconvenient or yields a politically unfavorable outcome," he concluded.

"Our Constitution is brilliant and awesome; it deserves a government to match it."

Amash also slammed Barr, saying "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."

The Associated Press contributed