Democrats back Amash for impeachment manager

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

A group of House Democrats wants U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, an independent from Cascade Township and a critic of President Donald Trump, to be one of the representatives who prosecutes the impeachment case against Trump in the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, holds a town hall meeting at Grand Rapids in May. On Sunday, a group of House Democrats asked House Democratic leadership to consider Amash, a Trump critic, for one of the impeachment managers in the Senate.

The office of U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat from Minnesota, confirmed on Sunday that freshman Democrats, including Phillips, asked House Democratic leadership to consider Amash for one of the impeachment managers in the Senate.

A source close to Phillips said the group had gauged Amash's interest and Amash was "open" to the idea. But Amash's congressional office and the offices of three first-term House Democrats from Michigan didn't respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

The full House is expected to vote on the articles of impeachment this week. The GOP-controlled Senate is expected to take up the matter in early 2020.

The Washington Post first reported on Sunday that a group of 30 freshman Democrats had asked House leaders to consider Amash.

A committee of U.S. House members, composed of "managers," acts as prosecutors during the impeachment proceedings in the Senate, according to the Senate's official website. It's up to the Senate to consider evidence, to hear witnesses and to vote to acquit or to convict the impeached official, the website said.

Amash, a Trump critic, left the Republican Party in July 2019. In a Washington post essay about his decision, Amash asked readers "to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us."

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against Trump on Friday. The articles accuse Trump of "abuse of power" and "obstruction of Congress." They allege that Trump used the powers of the presidency to solicit interference from Ukraine in the 2020 presidential election.

Trump has slammed Democrats' impeachment inquiry on social media.

"Congressional Do Nothing Democrats are being absolutely decimated in their districts on the subject of the Impeachment Hoax," Trump tweeted on Sunday night. "People that voted for them are literally screaming in their faces."

Republican lawmakers and party officials have opposed the impeachment inquiry, calling it a political effort to "undo the 2016 election."

But Amash has indicated he'll join Democrats in supporting the articles of impeachment. Amash told CNN earlier this month that there's "sufficient evidence" for the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

"This should be unanimous, not partisan. Impeachment in the House is not a conviction," Amash tweeted on Dec. 6. "The trial happens in the Senate. All the House does is charge impeachable conduct. All we need is probable cause. That threshold is easily met with the existing evidence."

Meanwhile, Trump has scheduled a Christmas-themed rally for Wednesday in Michigan. It will take place in Amash's congressional district in Battle Creek.

Amash, a lawyer who also served in the Michigan House, represents a portion of west Michigan in the U.S. House. He was first elected to Congress in November 2010.

Phillips, the Minnesota Democrat, said Amash showed "courage" when he was a Republican, according to the Washington Post's report on Sunday.

“To the extent that this can be bipartisan, it should, and I think including Representative Amash amongst the impeachment managers is a smart move both for the country, for the substance and for the optics,” Phillips said, according to the Washington Post's report.