Amash says decision to leave Republican Party was made 'in this current Congress'

Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashTrump allies assail impeachment on process while House Democrats promise open hearings soon Hoyer: We are going to move as fast 'as the facts and truth dictate' on open hearings Conway spars with Wallace on whether White House will cooperate with impeachment inquiry after formal vote MORE (Mich.), who announced Thursday he was leaving the Republican Party to become an independent, said he decided to exit the GOP "in this current Congress."

Amash in a July 4 Washington Post op-ed Amash wrote that he was departing the GOP after becoming "disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it." 

Asked in an interview with a Michigan ABC affiliate when he made the decision to leave, Amash responded, "in recent weeks and months, it’s become clear to me that we need a new direction."

"So certainly, in the most recent Congress—in this current Congress—is where I got to the point where I said, I don’t think I can keep doing it the way I’ve been doing it," he continued. I" think I have to try doing something else, to try to make a difference in a different way." 

ADVERTISEMENT

Amash also said in the interview that his decision to leave the party predated the release of the Mueller report, which Amash said showed that President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE had committed impeachable offenses. 

ADVERTISEMENT
"It was before the Mueller report. In fact, I was really hoping not to find anything in the Muller report because I didn’t want to get bogged down in all this whether it’s about the Mueller report or not about the Mueller report,"  he said. 

"But look, I’ve got a responsibility to my constituents to say what’s right. I would have loved to find nothing in there and still become an independent," he added, though he did also discuss long-term frustrations with the party's establishment. 

He also said that following his exit from the party, he would no longer caucus with Republicans. 

"I intend to be an independent representing my district,"  he said.  "I will represent my constituents the way I think is right, which is to follow the Constitution and make sure everyone in the community is represented. Not just one party or the other party, which is how it is in Washington these days, I want to represent every member of my community."

Despite some speculation following the move and his previous call for impeachment proceedings against President Trump, Amash said he hasn't had "serious conversations" about running for president,. 

"People talk to me about running for president all the time. When you say seriously, there are people who have approached me, but I haven’t had any serious conversations with them about that," he said. 

Amash also said that he wasn't worried about whether his exit from the party and criticisms of Trump would cost him his congressional seat. 

"I didn’t run for office to play games. I ran for office to represent the people. And that’s what I intend to do," he said.  "And if the people want to vote for someone else who is going to play the games, that’s up to the people. I have a lot of faith in this community."

Amash, a frequent critic of President Trump, wrote in his Independence Day op-ed that he was "declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party."

"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," he added.  If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it."