- Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
- Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican lawmaker from Michigan, said President Trump engaged in “impeachable conduct.”
- Trump’s loyalists quickly went after Amash, characterizing him as attention-seeking.
- Trump himself went after Amash through Twitter, calling him a “total lightweight” and “a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!”
- Because Trump’s allies make a point of punishing Republicans who break from the pack, other lawmakers are unlikely to follow Amash.
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WASHINGTON – When Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan became the first Republican to come to the conclusion that President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses, it greatly angered Trump and GOP loyalists who view any form of dissent as a cardinal sin.
Trump himself went after Amash through Twitter, calling him a “total lightweight” and “a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called Amash’s decision a plea for attention during an appearance on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“You’ve got to understand Justin Amash. He’s been in Congress quite some time,” McCarthy said. “I think he’s asked one question in all the committees that he’s been in. He votes more with Nancy Pelosi than he ever votes with me. It’s a question whether he’s even in our Republican conference as a whole.”
Kayleigh McEnany, the press secretary for Trump’s 2020 reelection, called out Amash for routinely voting against bipartisan legislation to boost spending for government programs. Tim Murtaugh, the Trump reelection campaign’s communications director, followed suit.
“Justin Amash belongs to the Justin Amash Party and has been a nominal member of the GOP for years,” Murtaugh wrote on Twitter. “His latest move is not shocking as it is meant only to get attention. Every reporter covering Capitol Hill knows this. Any story not including this is a dishonest representation.”
The move also prompted Michigan State Rep. Jim Lower to launch a primary challenge, citing Amash’s claims as the catalyst.
The GOP response to Amash was easily predictable.
Just look back a couple weeks to when a report revealed the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to Donald Trump, Jr. The move infuriated Trump’s allies and prompted Republicans to turn on a senator they had previously championed as a calculated leader during tense investigations.
Amash isn’t just an outlier with respect to his views on Trump’s conduct as detailed in the Mueller report, his libertarian leanings have often made him a thorn in his own party’s side.
He carefully explains each vote he takes on his Facebook page, and he routinely votes against spending increases and continuing resolutions, even when its a top priority on the Republican agenda. Amash almost never misses any votes, one notable exception being in 2017, after which he cried for failing to cast a vote for the first time in six years on Capitol Hill.
There are a few other members of the Republican Party in Congress similar to Amash in how they have refused to budge on key policy areas like government spending, interventionist foreign policy, and elsewhere. But none are likely to follow Amash as it relates to the special counsel’s findings. The risk is simply too high for a Republican to break ranks.