The last Republican patriot, or the first?

The last Republican patriot, or the first?
© Greg Nash

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE laid out clear evidence of obstruction of justice in his report to Attorney General William Barr on the Russian intrusion into America’s 2016 election campaign, yet almost every Republicans in Congress refuses to hold President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE accountable. That is, every Republican except Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan. If patriotism is love of country, and love is expressed not just in feelings but in acts of service, sacrifice or putting the country’s needs before your own, then Amash may be the last Republican patriot left in Congress.

Since assuming office, Donald Trump has insulted opponents, undermined international alliances and attacked American institutions. If a Democrat did those things, Republicans would scream bloody murder. But, despite AG Barr’s attempt to sugarcoat the Mueller report’s findings, the document lays out a pretty thorough case of obstruction of justice.

Mueller details 10 possible obstructive acts. Here are a few of the most salient:

  • Trump fired, or tried to remove, three Department of Justice officials who were investigating him: former FBI Director James Comey, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and special counsel Mueller, acknowledging in public and private that he was concerned about the scope of the investigation.  
  • When the president ordered former White House counsel Donald McGahn to fire Mueller, he refused and was prepared to resign because of it. Counseled not to quit, McGahn stayed in the White House and President Trump ordered him to issue a letter denying that Trump had ordered him to fire Mueller. That would have been a lie, and McGahn refused.  
  • Trump dangled pardons in front of witnesses to encourage them to lie or obscure the truth in sworn testimony. The case against Trump goes on from there.

Amash issued a series of tweets conveying his concern that these are impeachable acts. My favorite point is his last, in which he accused fellow Republican members, who defend the president at every turn, of not even reading the report.

Amash has been called a gadfly who “goes it alone.” A founder of the Freedom Caucus, he won’t rule out challenging Trump as a Libertarian in 2020. But Amash is no insignificant Republican. He is from Michigan, one of the “Blue Wall” states that crumbled in 2016, giving Trump the presidency over Hillary Clinton. But unlike members from the Detroit suburbs who tend to be more moderate, Amash is from Grand Rapids, the heart of the conservative movement in the state. The 3rd Congressional District voted for Trump by 10 points (and voted for every other Republican nominee in recent history).

Grand Rapids is the home of Amway, the multi-level marketing company, founded in part by the DeVos family. The DeVoses are among the most prolific Republican donors in the country. Betsy DeVos, who married into the family, chaired the Michigan Republican Party and is one of the pillars of the school choice movement. In 2017, President Trump appointed her secretary of Education. At her confirmation hearing, DeVos thought her family could have donated as much as $200 million to GOP candidates. These are Amash’s constituents — and financial supporters, until he began breaking with Trump.

Amash’s public interest in an impeachment inquiry already has secured at least one opponent in next year’s Republican primary. Maybe Amash knew an opponent was circling the wagons, but other Republican critics crumbled in the face of a backlash from Trump voters. Amash stepped forward anyway, knowing the jeopardy his political career could face.

If Amash ran for president, he probably would not win — but maybe he should do it anyway. That run might remind voters that all conservatives haven’t given over their principles to Donald Trump. Unlike Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) or Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who temporarily made peace with Trump before election time, or former Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) or Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who retired instead of facing the voters again, Amash still seems to be plotting a path through perilous conservative terrain.

Every other Republican in Congress keeps putting Trump first, and not the country. Into the scrum came Justin AmashJustin AmashHillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware House passes anti-robocall bill Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial MORE, willing to sacrifice his career to put the country’s needs first. There is a word for that: patriotic. Is Amash the last patriot in the Republican Party, the only one willing to support an impeachment inquiry, or will he help break the dam and just be the first?

Jamal Simmons is a Democratic strategist who has worked for the Clinton White House, Congress and the Clinton, Gore and Obama presidential campaigns. He is a liberal host for The Hill’s new Hill.TV video division. Follow him on Twitter @JamalSimmons.