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President Donald Trump and his advisers have reportedly discussed potentially backing a primary challenger to U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of west Michigan after he became the only Republican lawmaker to come out in support of impeachment. 

"I don't have anything to say about it," Amash said Wednesday outside the U.S. Capitol. 

POLITICO reported this week that Trump has brought up the prospect of a primary challenge with Vice President Mike Pence, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and with Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, who co-founded the conservative House Freedom Caucus with Amash in 2015. 

Trump has reportedly made no firm decision on Amash, but two GOP opponents have already filed to run against the fifth-term congressman, including state Rep. Jim Lower, R-Greenville. 

"See you soon Justin... I hear Michigan is beautiful during primary season," Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Thursday morning. 

Amash responded by seeming to welcome Trump Jr. to Michigan: "If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer." 

Amash was quoting from a 2016 email that Trump Jr. sent during the presidential campaign in response to an offerto provide his father's campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.

A libertarian Republican who has clashed with GOP leadership, Amash said Wednesday he remains "absolutely" confident in his district and plans to run for reelection to his House district in 2020.  

"Right now, that's the plan, yeah," Amash said. 

"I think anyone who spends time in my district can understand why I'm confident. All the other stuff like, polls here and there, I don't think they're really that relevant," Amash said. 

"If I looked at poll numbers for a gauge of whether I could win, I would have lost about 10 races by now. I don't worry about that kind of stuff.

"At the end of the day, people go to vote, and I think they vote on character. I don't think there's any comparison, so I'm not worried about it." 

Amash also has not ruled out running for the White House on the Libertarian ticket. "I think it's wise just to leave all options on the table," he said. 

Asked about a potential Senate run, Amash said he likes Republican businessman John James, who announced a campaign last week. "I wouldn't run against him," Amash said.  

Amash stepped down Monday from the Freedom Caucus. Members of the group, who are among Trump's most vocal defenders in Congress, had disagreed with Amash's stance on impeachment and criticized him in recent weeks. 

"I thought it was the appropriate time. I hadn't attended the meetings in a while," Amash said.

"Obviously, I've become more of a national story, and it required the Freedom Caucus to constantly respond to questions about me, so I decided it was better for everyone."

Amash said it was his decision, and caucus members hadn't asked him to leave.  

"If anything, I got the opposite reaction," Amash added. "I heard that from several members" who wanted him to stay.

He and colleagues had founded the caucus in an effort to push for a more open legislative process and greater voice in proceedings for House members often left out of deliberations, debates and amendments.

But Amash said he'd felt the group had drifted from its mission statement, which he helped to write.  

"It's not really about whether any members are supportive of the president even on any particular issue. It's just the focus of the group had shifted," Amash said. "It became more about defending the Trump administration." 

Whitmer: ‘Smart women’ will decide 2020

Celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the constitutional amendment that gave women the right to vote, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday predicted female voters who turned out in 2018 will again be a major factor in the 2020 presidential election.

Asked by a veteran male reporter if “angry women” will decide the election, Whitmer said she thinks “smart women will decide who the president of the United States is going to be.”

Whitmer and other Democrats fared well last year in suburban areas like Oakland County, a trend experts attributed in part to strong turnout by female voters frustrated by Republican President Donald Trump.

Whitmer said she thinks there are “a lot of reasons that women are engaged in politics” right now, including concerns over health care access and workplace fairness.  

“I believe that what we’re confronting as a country is about every single one of us,” the governor said, predicting “that we’re going to see historical turnout in this next election, and we’re going to see women voting in record numbers.”

During the event, Whitmer noted she is only Michigan’s second woman governor and touted 2018 election wins by Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

“It’s not some magic potion that we’re offering,” she said, suggesting they and other women were supported at the ballot box because of their ideas and effort, not gender.

“I think that’s truly how we achieve equality — by electing more people that are representative of the general public and also staying focused on fixing problems," Whitmer said. "We’ll show that we are pragmatic, and we’re able to get things done.”

Thanedar moves to exclude 'unflattering' coverage

Former gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar is asking a federal court to exclude “unflattering” new stories published during his campaign as the Ann Arbor Democrat continues to fight allegations he fraudulently inflated the value of a chemical testing company he sold in 2016.

Thanedar’s attorneys this week filed a series of motions seeking to bar several forms of evidence plaintiffs could seek to use in the civil lawsuit, including campaign-season news coverage.

“This publicly available information is not relevant to the Avomeen transaction at the center of this case, and much of it is unduly prejudicial as well,” attorneys wrote.

“It will not surprise the court that Mr. Thanedar’s involvement in a hard-fought campaign for his party’s gubernatorial nomination led to the publication of numerous unflattering stories, many based on false rumor and innuendo and all irrelevant to this case.”

Thanedar has denied any wrongdoing in the 2016 transaction, which netted him roughly $20 million. He sold a majority share of Avomeen to High Street Capital.

While The Detroit News chronicled both Thanedar’s business triumphs and tribulations, he faced intense backlash over a Huffington Post story focused on the closure of a shuttered pharmaceutical testing facility he had also once owned.

joosting@detroitnews.com

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