WASHINGTON – Republicans arguing Wednesday against impeaching Donald Trump time after time criticized Democrats’ willingness to proceed without any Republican votes ― but neglected to mention the guy they chased out of the party for speaking out against the president.
Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan remains one of the most conservative members of the House, based on interest group rankings, but he found himself on the outs with the GOP after repeatedly criticizing Trump and supporting impeachment months before Democratic leaders.
Amash, now an independent, told HuffPost on Wednesday that he feels his support for impeachment makes it “bipartisan,” even if others do not agree with that definition. He said he tried to persuade other Republicans to speak out against Trump but they seemed less and less interested.
“I think the deeper we’ve gotten into it, the more people feel they have to stick with the team, to survive, if you will,” he said shortly after becoming the only non-Democrat to speak in favor of impeachment on the floor. “I think there is safety in numbers. So if they feel like all Republicans go one way, then they feel comfortable doing it.”
That no current Republicans were supporting impeachment was a major talking point for Republicans.
“We know how this partisan process will end,” said Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas).
“The process is unquestionably not bipartisan,” added Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.).
During the daylong floor debate, Amash got speaking time from California’s Adam Schiff, who was controlling time for Democrats, and not Georgia’s Doug Collins, who was managing it for Republicans.
“President Donald J. Trump has abused and violated the public trust by using his high office to solicit the aid of a foreign power not for the benefit of the United States of America but instead for his personal and political gain,” Amash said during his two minutes.
Amash scored 100% in the Club for Growth rankings earlier this year ― among only three House members who received that rating for his voting record. He earned a 94% score from the conservative group Heritage Action.
“It’s a fair point,” said Heritage Action spokesman Noah Weinrich, but he nevertheless defended the group’s “key vote alert” asking lawmakers to vote against the impeachment. “We saw that this was just a partisan political exercise.”
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, said he also did not consider the impeachment effort “bipartisan” because of Amash’s support. “He’s not a Republican. He switched parties,” he said, and then claimed he did not know why Amash had left the GOP. “You can ask him.”
Amash announced his departure from the Republican Party ― he did not “switch” parties ― in a July 4 op-ed published in The Washington Post. That came just weeks after he left the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative members he had helped found years earlier.
And that came shortly after Amash posted on Twitter his case for impeaching Trump based on the findings in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that listed multiple instances in which Trump had obstructed justice in his attempts to block Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in Trump’s 2016 election. “Some of the president’s actions were inherently corrupt. Other actions were corrupt ― and therefore impeachable ― because the president took them to serve his own interests,” Amash wrote.
Trump called Amash a “loser” in response, but a group of 30 freshman House Democrats saw in him an effective advocate of impeachment and asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to name him as a floor manager for the coming Senate trial.
A House aide close to the impeachment inquiry said on condition of anonymity that it was “highly unlikely that the speaker would take this sort of risk when she has so many of her own well-qualified members clamoring for a spot.”
For his part, Amash declined to say Wednesday if he was interested in the job. “I’m happy to have a conversation with the speaker,” he said.