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GOP rep: Trump has 'extra-constitutional' view of presidency

GOP rep: Trump has 'extra-constitutional' view of presidency
© Greg Nash

Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashBiden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' Battle rages over vaccine passports Republicans eye primaries in impeachment vote MORE would be all too happy to give President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE a lesson on the Constitution.

The Michigan Republican, founder of the House Liberty Caucus, said he’s not sure if the billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star has ever read the founding document and suggested Trump doesn’t have a good grasp of Constitution 101.

“He seems to believe that government works like a business and he is the CEO of the business, and that is not how it works,” Amash said in an interview with The Hill on Friday. “We have separate branches, checks and balances, federalism. 

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“I don’t think it’s out of any bad intention. I think he just views the job in a sort of  ‘extra-constitutional’ way, outside of the Constitution,” Amash added. “I don’t think our framework in this country really comes into play when he’s thinking about how the job should operate.”

“Do you think Trump has read the Constitution?” a reporter asked.

“I don’t know,” Amash replied.

House and Senate GOP lawmakers are mostly giving the president-elect a pass for now, giddy at the chance to repeal ObamaCare and tackle other legislative priorities with their new GOP-dominated government.

But not Amash.

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The libertarian-minded, 36-year-old attorney, who backed his close friend Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Sherrod Brown calls Rand Paul 'kind of a lunatic' for not wearing mask Overnight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna MORE (R-Ky.) for president, has taken to Twitter in the weeks following Trump’s stunning victory to jab at what he sees as the president-elect’s utter disregard for the Constitution.

Amash said he’s troubled by Trump’s pick for attorney general, Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOne quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors Biden fills immigration court with Trump hires Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE (R-Ala.), saying he “supports indefinite detention of Americans w/o charge or trial, mass surveillance of law-abiding Americans, [and] civil asset forfeiture.”

The congressman suggested Trump’s business contracts with foreign governments around the world raised potential conflict of interest issues. And Amash torched Trump this week for threatening to lock up or strip the citizenship of those who burn the American flag. 

“No president is allowed to burn the First Amendment,” Amash wrote in a tweet to his 80,000 followers. 

But perhaps no issue has fired up Amash as much as Trump’s deal this week to provide an Indiana manufacturer $7 million in state tax breaks to prevent the company from shipping roughly 1,000 jobs to Mexico. Trump and Vice President-elect Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump spokesman says defeating Cheney a top priority GOP is consumed by Trump conspiracy theories McConnell amid Trump criticism: 'I'm looking forward, not backward' MORE, the Indiana governor, negotiated the agreement directly with executives from Carrier Corp., then flew to the heating and cooling giant’s Indianapolis headquarters to take a victory lap. 

“It’s cronyism,” Amash told The Hill, echoing other conservative critics who have said such a deal amounts to the government picking winners and losers in violation of basic free-market principles.

“We have a Constitution. The president doesn’t just get to do anything he wants. He has to work within the constitutional framework, regardless of why people elected him.

“And deals like that hurt the people of Indiana; they don’t help the people of Indiana,” Amash added. “They redistribute resources and offer benefits to one company when another company down the road doesn’t get those same benefits. Sometimes competitors don’t get those same benefits.

“That’s just central planning. That was tried in the Soviet Union. It didn’t work very well.”

Hill GOP leaders and senior members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee seem uninterested in investigating any of Trump’s wide web of international business dealings, which Democrats warn pose obvious conflicts of interest problems for the new incoming GOP president.

Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE (R-Utah) has repeatedly made the point that Trump hasn’t even been sworn in yet, even as he’s vowed to continue to probe whether Trump’s rival, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAmerica departs Afghanistan as China arrives Young, diverse voters fueled Biden victory over Trump McConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' MORE, mishandled classified information.

But Amash, who serves on the Oversight Committee, said the powerful panel should take a closer look at some of these issues.

“My job is to uphold the Constitution, follow the rule of law and represent all my constituents,” Amash said. “I think we should treat him the same way we treat any president. That means we need to make sure there are no conflicts of interest, just like we would do if Hillary Clinton had won.

“If we were going to look at the issues for Hillary Clinton, then we should also look at them for Donald Trump. I just think the same standard should apply.”