Amash quits Republican Party

Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashGroup of Democrats floating censure of Trump instead of impeachment: report Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump MORE (Mich.) on Thursday announced he's leaving the Republican Party and becoming an independent, months after igniting a political firestorm when he became the first sitting GOP congressman to call for an impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day MORE.

"Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party," Amash wrote in a Fourth of July op-ed for The Washington Post. "No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us. I’m asking you to believe that we can do better than this two-party system — and to work toward it. If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it."

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The libertarian congressman, who said he's become "disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it," argued that "the two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions."

Amash has fueled speculation in recent weeks that he's planning to mount a third-party challenge to Trump, whom the Michigan lawmaker has repeatedly criticized in the wake of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment Trump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts MORE's report on 2016 election interference.

The Michigan lawmaker drew backlash from members of his own party in May when he said he believed Trump had committed impeachable behavior that was revealed by the Mueller report. He subsequently left the conservative House Freedom Caucus, of which he was a founding member, and gained a pro-Trump primary challenger in Michigan. 

Trump loyalists have also homed in on him, with Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpMelania Trump's 'Be Best' hashtag trends after president goes after Greta Thunberg Trump Jr. blasts Time for choosing 'marketing gimmick' Greta Thunberg as Person of the Year White House calls Democratic witness's mentioning of president's youngest son 'classless' MORE suggesting in June he might campaign in Michigan alongside Amash's primary opponent. And Trump himself called Amash a "loser" and reportedly considered openly endorsing another Republican for the lawmaker's seat. Meanwhile, a poll in June showed Amash trailing his little-known challenger Jim Lowe by 16 points. 

Despite mounting pressure from fellow Republicans, Amash has remained steadfast in his position, arguing in an interview with Vox on Wednesday that the GOP is moving "toward a sense of victimization."

In an interview with The Hill in June, Amash insisted he had no interest in playing "spoiler" in the 2020 election, saying that if he runs, he intends to win.

Asked at the time if he had made a decision on a third-party presidential run, Amash said, "I haven't ruled anything out."