Amash quits Republican Party

Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashLawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and Omar House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Sanford headed to New Hampshire amid talk of challenge to 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 TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' 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 MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony 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 TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor PETA billboard in Baltimore calls Kushner a 'rich pest' Dick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report 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."