Justin Amash on what his GOP colleagues say behind closed doors
(CNN)Newly independent Rep. Justin Amash, the only congressional Republican to have publicly argued that President Donald Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct, told CNN that high-level party officials have thanked him behind closed doors for his stance on impeachment proceedings against Trump.
“I get people sending me text messages, people calling me, saying 'thank you for what you're doing,'” Amash told CNN's Jake Tapper in a wide-ranging interview on “State of the Union” Sunday.
“They're not saying it publicly.
And I think that's a problem for our country, it's a problem for the Republican Party, it's a problem for the Democratic Party when people aren't allowed to speak out.”
Amash, who announced Thursday he was leaving the GOP, said that he has had problems with the Republican Party “for several years,”and that he would leave even if Trump were not president. “I don't think there is anyone in there who could change the system,” Amash said.
CNN's interview with Amash comes days after he announced in a Washington Post op-ed, “Today, I am 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 wrote. “If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it.”
Amash didn't mention the President by name, but his decision to abandon the party comes after months of escalating criticism not just of Trump but of his own colleagues for their failure to hold the President to account, specifically for the actions detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the 2016 election and its aftermath.
Pelosi's 'making a mistake' on impeachment
In the same interview, Amash said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should start impeachment proceedings against Trump.
“From a principled, moral position, she's making a mistake. From a strategic position, she's making a mistake,” Amash said. “If she believes, as I do, that there's impeachable conduct in there, then she should say so. She should tell the American people, we're going to move forward with impeachment hearings and potentially articles of impeachment.”
Amash continued: “When she says things , 'Oh, I think that we need to have the strongest case before we go forward,' what she's telling the American people is, she doesn't think there's a strong case. If she doesn't think that, then she shouldn't open her mouth in the first place and say she thinks there's impeachable conduct.”
On his 2020 plans
The Michigan lawmaker's break with the Republican Party added fuel to growing speculation that he will seek the Libertarian Party nomination and launch a long-shot bid for president in 2020, which he has not ruled out. When asked by Tapper on Sunday about a possible presidential bid, Amash repeated that he “wouldn't rule anything that out” but said he could not put a timeline on his decision.
Amash was critical Sunday of Trump's impact on the country during his presidency, namely calling out Trump for divisiveness.
“What the President is doing is actually lowering the tone across the country, he's harming civil discourse, he's creating a lot of partisan divide — he's enhancing it. And I think that's very dangerous for our country and I don't think a lot of people appreciate it,” he said.
Amash also reacted to a recent critical tweet from Trump, where the President called him “one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress.” Amash responded, saying, “That's not how people are supposed to talk about each other, to each other.”
“(Trump) 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 said.
Amash told Tapper that he is still “very confident” that he can win his congressional seat in Michigan as an independent.
“When I go back to my district people are coming up to me and saying, 'Thank you for what you're doing,'” Amash said. “People want open, honest representation. They want people to come to Congress and work with integrity.”
CNN's Haley Byrd contributed to this report.
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Justin Amash: Impeachment Manager? Dems Want Former Republican Rep to Help Prosecute Trump
A group of Democrats in the House of Representatives reportedly wants libertarian-leaning legislator Justin Amash to be one of three impeachment managers.
The Michigan congressman—who switched his party allegiance from Republican to independent back in July—has been a vocal supporter of impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump while invoking nonpartisan and high-minded reasons for this support.
Now, “a group of 30 freshman Democrats, led by Rep. Dean Phillips (D–Minn.), has asked House leaders to consider [Amash] for the small group tasked with arguing its case for removing Trump in the upper chamber,” reports The Washington Post, which based its account on talks with “several Democratic officials.” More:
The thinking, according to these people, is that Amash would reach conservative voters in a way Democrats can't, potentially bolstering their case to the public. He also would provide Democrats cover from GOP accusations that they're pursuing a partisan impeachment; Amash is one of the most conservative members of the House and a vocal Trump critic.
“To the extent that this can be bipartisan, it should, and I think including Representative Amash amongst the impeachment managers is a smart move both for the country, for the substance and for the optics,” Phillips said, adding that Amash brings an array of qualifications: He's an attorney, a constitutionalist and “the first and only member of the Republican conference, when he was a Republican, to show courage,” Phillips added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) would ultimately make the call and is expected to announce managers early this week, multiple Democrats said. Amash did not respond to a request for comment about whether he would accept such a position. But Phillips, who is in touch with Amash about the idea, said the lawmaker has agreed to consider it if asked.
The three impeachment managers picked by Pelosi “will effectively serve as prosecutors making the case to the Senate that Trump deserves to be removed from office over his alleged misconduct centering on the Ukraine scandal,” explains Politico.
Amash has not been directly involved in the House impeachment inquiry proceedings thus far.
Last week, the House Judiciary Committee officially approved articles of impeachment accusing Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Today, the committee released its full report, saying Trump “has realized the Framers' worst nightmare” and “abused his power in soliciting and pressuring a vulnerable foreign nation to corrupt the next United States Presidential election by sabotaging a political opponent.”
The full House is expected to vote on the articles of impeachment on Wednesday or Thursday of this week, depending on how much time is taken up by debate.
A new ruling on Title IX, the law governing sex discrimination in public education, bodes well for rolling back government overreach. From Inside Higher Ed:
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that Michigan State University and one of its senior administrators cannot be held liable for student victims' emotional distress after seeing their alleged perpetrators on campus because the interactions did not lead to further sexual harassment or assault, according to an opinion issued Thursday.
Legal experts said the decision is a narrow interpretation of the protections for victims of sexual misconduct under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual assault, on college campuses.
More from Inside Higher Ed here. Decision here.
The Hallmark Channel ran a commercial for the wedding company Zola which featured two women getting married and kissing. It then pulled the commercial amid complaints. It has now reinstated the commercial amid more complaints. (File under: The market works better than E.U.–style advertising standards boards at sorting this stuff out.)
Crown Media Family Networks apologizes for the decision to remove an ad featuring a same-sex couple. “We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused,” said Mike Perry President & CEO, Hallmark Cards Inc. Full statement here: https://t.co/bpyOss0tmu
— Hallmark Channel (@hallmarkchannel) December 16, 2019
NEXT: Was This the Decade We Hit Peak Free Speech?
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