House

Clash with Trump marks latest break with GOP leaders for Justin Amash

Rep. Justin Amash made headlines this weekend when he broke with his party to become the first Republican lawmaker to accuse President Trump of “impeachable conduct.” But the Michigan conservative has a history of bucking GOP leaders.

Amash tweeted on Saturday that the president’s actions to potentially obstruct special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference warrant impeachment proceedings by the House. 

{mosads}He also accused Attorney General William Barr of “deliberately misrepresenting” Mueller’s report on the investigation’s findings.

This is not the first time Amash has stood out in the Republican Party by criticizing Trump or other top party officials, something the president highlighted when he hit back on Twitter on Sunday.

Amash, a member of the Freedom Caucus and the Liberty Caucus, was elected to the House in 2010 as part of the anti-establishment libertarian wave that returned control of the lower chamber to Republicans.

He quickly made a name for himself by voting no on a GOP-backed government funding measure because it did not do enough to cut spending, as well as citing constitutionality issues to abstain from several other votes.

In 2012, he was removed from a committee post by then-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for challenging his leadership.

Amash then backed a failed coup attempt to depose Boehner.

“We have to stand for something and we have to present a clear message to the American people and that hasn’t happened,” Amash said at the time.

As soon as Trump won the Republican nomination for president, Amash made clear he was not in support of the New York real estate mogul, who he said had an “extra-constitutional” view of presidency.

“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 told The Hill in December of 2016, following Trump’s surprise election. “We have separate branches, checks and balances, federalism.”

Constitutionality has been a key part of Amash’s disagreements with Trump since the president’s inauguration.

He has also been critical of the Trump administration’s policies, including its attempt at repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

“While I’ve been in Congress, I can’t recall a more universally detested piece of legislation than this GOP health care bill,” Amash tweeted in March 2017.

The bill was approved by the House and defeated in the Senate, but only after the initial version was pulled after opposition from Amash, among others.

Just months into Trump’s term, Amash said the president, who advertised himself as an outsider, had merged with the Washington swamp he had pledged to drain, coining the hashtag #Trumpstablishment.

After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Amash joined the ranks of Democrats calling for an independent investigation into Russia’s possible ties to the Trump administration.

“My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre,” Amash tweeted in May 2017, referring to the paragraph in Trump’s letter to Comey that stated “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”

He was also one of the first Republicans to suggest impeachment was on the table in May 2017 after Comey wrote a memo indicating that Trump urged the FBI to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Last June, Amash and Trump got into a public argument over the president’s attacks of then-Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) during a closed-door meeting.

Trump claimed that Republicans “applauded and laughed loudly” when he called Sanford a “nasty guy” in a meeting that the South Carolina Republican, an outspoken critic of the president’s rhetoric, missed because of a flight delay.

Amash disputed Trump’s claim that the comments were well received.

“House Republicans had front row seats to @POTUS’s dazzling display of pettiness and insecurity. Nobody applauded or laughed. People were disgusted,” Amash tweeted.

That same month, the Michigan lawmaker criticized Trump picking Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court nominee because of a 2015 opinion written by nominee while serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, that found “the Government’s metadata collection program is entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment.”

The libertarian was one of eight Republicans in the House last fall to vote against a funding package that included $5.7 billion in funding for Trump’s border, calling it a “massive, wasteful spending bill.”

He was then the only Republican to cosponsor a bill to block Trump’s emergency declaration to secure funding for a wall after Congress refused to budge on the issue.

“A national emergency declaration for a non-emergency is void. A prerequisite for declaring an emergency is that the situation requires immediate action and Congress does not have an opportunity to act. @POTUS @realDonaldTrump is attempting to circumvent our constitutional system,” Amash tweeted following the president’s declaration.

Amash has said that he would not rule out challenging Trump in the 2020 election as the Libertarian Party’s candidate.

Amash’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

Tags Boehner Brett Kavanaugh Donald Trump James Comey John Boehner Justin Amash Mark Sanford Robert Mueller William Barr
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