Amash criticizes Trump, Pelosi in first Sunday show appearance since leaving GOP

Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashAmash warns of turning lawmakers like Cheney into 'heroes' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Biden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' MORE (Mich.) doubled down on both his support for impeaching President TrumpDonald TrumpHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting VA moving to cover gender affirmation surgery through department health care MORE and his decision to leave the Republican party on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.

Amash, who had previously been the only Republican member of Congress to support impeachment proceedings, told CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperPolice investigating death of TV anchor who uncovered Clinton tarmac meeting as suicide Mississippi governor: Biden goal of 70 percent of US vaccinated by July 4 is 'arbitrary' Energy secretary: Adversaries have capability of shutting down US power grid MORE on Sunday that senior officials have privately thanked him for his public stance. 


"When I was discussing impeachment, I had fellow colleagues and other Republicans, high-level officials, contacting me, saying, 'Thank you for what you’re doing,'" Amash said. "So there are lots of Republicans out there who are saying these things privately, but they're not saying it publicly, and I think that’s a problem for our country."

Amash also declined again to rule out a third-party presidential run.

"I still wouldn't rule anything like that out. I believe that I have to use my skills, my public influence, where it serves the country best. And I believe I have to defend the Constitution in whichever way works best," he said.

Trump, he added, "thinks people owe loyalty to him, but people are elected to Congress with an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not an oath to support and defend one person, the president who happens to be from your own party."

Amash criticized Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP increasingly balks at calling Jan. 6 an insurrection Overnight Energy: Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post Trump against boycotting Beijing Olympics in 2022 MORE (D-Calif.) for her continued hard line against pursuing impeachment.

"From a principled, moral position, she is making a mistake. From a strategic position, she is making a mistake," Amash said.

"I do believe there's a strong case. I believe she believes there is a strong case, and if so, she should move forward," he added.

The four-term lawmaker has said he arrived at his position on impeachment after reading former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s report, in which which Mueller determined he could not exonerate Trump on the question of obstruction of justice but did not find sufficient evidence the Trump campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government on election interference.

Amash told Tapper the majority of Americans likely have not read the report and are counting on their elected representatives to do so, but he added that he believes less than 15 percent of Congress has read it.

If all Congressional Republicans read the report, Amash said, "I think a large number of them would reach the same conclusion. There are some that who would reach different conclusions."

The Sunday appearance followed a Thursday op-ed by Amash in The Washington Post in which he announced his departure from the GOP.

"Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party," Amash wrote on the Fourth of July. "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."

His stance on impeachment has resulted in sharp backlash from his Republican colleagues and supporters of the president. At his first town hall since coming out in favor of impeachment, he received a standing ovation but also took a question from a constituent in a "MAGA" hat who said, "I can’t tell you how disappointed I am."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyGOP increasingly balks at calling Jan. 6 an insurrection House Democrats' campaign arm raises almost million in May Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision MORE (R-Calif.) said in May that Amash was "out of step with this conference” and “out of step with America."

"You know, people get elected by going back and talking to the constituents of how they vote on the floor, a reflection of within their own district," he said at a press conference. "I think when it comes to actions, I think the constituents will have the final say."

Amash attracted a primary challenger almost immediately after announcing his support for impeachment. Michigan state Rep. Jim Lower entered the race touting his support for Trump and opposition to impeachment, and Trump is reportedly considering publicly backing him.

"If they were to get involved early I think it would help make sure that it was just me versus Amash in the August primary — and if that’s the case we’re definitely going to win," Lower told Politico in June.

Donald Trump Jr.Don TrumpDonald Trump Jr. joins Cameo Book claims Trump family members were 'inappropriately' close with Secret Service agents Trump Jr. shares edited video showing father knocking Biden down with golf ball MORE has also hinted he will campaign with Lower, with Amash countering, “If it’s what you say I love it, especially later in the summer,” a reference to an email the president’s eldest son sent while planning a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.