Amash reinforces remarks on Trump, saying impeachment justified

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township

Washington — U.S. Rep. Justin Amash didn't back off his remarks about President Donald Trump on Monday, doubling down on his argument that the president's impeachment is justified. 

In a series of tweets, the Republican congressman and Trump critic from West Michigan detailed Monday why he thinks the case can be made for impeaching Trump for obstruction of justice.

"People who say there were no underlying crimes and therefore the president could not have intended to illegally obstruct the investigation — and therefore cannot be impeached — are resting their argument on several falsehoods," Amash wrote. 

He went on to offer rebuttals to various defenses of Trump's behavior as described in special counsel Robert Mueller's report. 

Amash, who is serving his fifth term, declared Saturday that he believes Trump's conduct has met the "threshold of impeachment," becoming the first GOP lawmaker in Congress to break with Trump over the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. 

His remarks over the weekend prompted an angry response from Trump, who called Amash a "loser" on Twitter and said he never liked him anyway. 

Amash's remarks prompted state Rep. Jim Lower, R-Greenville, to announce early his plan to challenge Amash in the GOP primary in 2020. Republican Tom Norton is also running in the primary.

"Congressman Justin Amash tweets yesterday calling for President Trump’s impeachment show how out of touch he is with the truth and how out of touch he is with people he represents," Lower said in a statement. 

The question for some observers is what Amash might do next — for instance, introducing or co-sponsoring impeachment-related legislation, or even running for president on the Libertarian ticket

"Every member of Congress has certain powers and certain responsibilities, and he’s made a determination — certainly different than my determination after looking at the evidence and weighing what is going on," U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, told "Michigan's Big Show" Monday on 1240 WJIM. 

"The question I’ve got is, is he going to do anything about it then? But that is something he’s going to have to wrestle with. ... I just wish people would be more focused on the policy than worrying about getting into national media."

Amash declined an interview request through a staffer and had not granted other media requests as of Monday afternoon, allowing the tweets to speak for themselves. 

Amash on Monday pushed back on the contention that an underlying crime is necessary to impeach Trump for obstruction of justice. 

"In fact, obstruction of justice does not require the prosecution of an underlying crime, and there is a logical reason for that. Prosecutors might not charge a crime precisely *because* obstruction of justice denied them timely access to evidence that could lead to a prosecution," he wrote. 

Some "imply the president should be permitted to use any means to end what he claims to be a frivolous investigation, no matter how unreasonable his claim," Amash continued. 

"In fact, the president could not have known whether every single person Mueller investigated did or did not commit any crimes."

The libertarian lawmaker also disputed the implication that the threshold of "high crimes and misdemeanors" requires actual criminal charges.

"In fact, 'high Crimes and Misdemeanors' is not defined in the Constitution and does not require corresponding statutory charges. The context implies conduct that violates the public trust — and that view is echoed by the Framers of the Constitution and early American scholars," Amash concluded.

Mueller in his report said the Trump campaign did not conspire with Russia; however, on obstruction, Mueller neither implicated nor exonerated Trump, leaving the matter up to Congress.