Trump critics on Monday pointed to what they said was the latest evidence that congressional Democrats must begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump: the fact that the move now has the support of at least one Republican.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) became the first Republican to publicly call for the House to draw up articles of impeachment against Trump in a Twitter thread on Saturday, arguing that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on the president's campaign offers ample evidence that Trump obstructed justice.
"Plenty of liberals are asking why there aren't more Republican members of Congress with the guts, eloquence, or honesty to say what Amash has said. It's a good question. But a better, more relevant question is this: Why aren't there more Democrats willing to say the same?" —Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept
His position puts Amash at odds with many members of his own party—and resulted in a threat from one state representative who vowed to challenge Amash in a primary in 2020—and also with top Democrats who have claimed that pursuing impeachment would be a futile exercise despite mounting evidence of Trump's wrongdoing.
"Plenty of liberals are asking why there aren't more Republican members of Congress with the guts, eloquence, or honesty to say what Amash has said," wrote Mehdi Hasan at The Intercept on Monday. "It's a good question. But a better, more relevant question is this: Why aren't there more Democrats willing to say the same?"
In his Twitter thread on Saturday, Amash wrote that any member of Congress who has thoroughly read the Mueller report should have come to the same conclusion he did after reading the 448-page document.
Despite Attorney General William Barr's claim that the report suggested Trump could not have obstructed justice because he didn't commit an underlying crime, Mueller's investigation uncovered at least 10 instances in which the president may have obstructed justice—instances which the special counsel left to Congress to investigate.
Barr "deliberately misrepresented Mueller's report," Amash concluded after reading the document—which, he suggested, few members of Congress had actually read.
Here are my principal conclusions:
1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report.
2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.
3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances.
4. Few members of Congress have read the report.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 18, 2019
"Contrary to Barr's portrayal," Amash wrote, "Mueller's report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment."
Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 18, 2019
On Monday, Amash doubled down on his call for drawing up articles of impeachment, expanding on his view that Congress has reason to impeach the president even if Trump did not personally commit an underlying crime by colluding with Russia.
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On the Democratic side, Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Al Green (D-Texas) have led the call to impeach Trump, with Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) signing on as co-sponsors of their resolution last month.
At The Intercept, Hasan expressed hope that Amash's support would help pave the way for more Democrats to publicly call for impeachment proceedings—considering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said just after the Democrats won control of the House in November that impeachment proceedings must be completed in a "bipartisan way."
"Amash is a Republican and one of the most conservative members of the House," wrote Hasan. "So it's bipartisan now. In fact, a few other Republicans might throw their weight behind impeachment too—if Pelosi and Company can be bothered to hold the hearings, make the case, and call a vote."
Amash's stance on impeachment came to light as Pelosi and other powerful Democrats claimed that bringing charges against Trump would be "divisive" and "not worthwhile" as the Republican-controlled Senate would not vote in favor of the move.
"How is it possible that a Republican member of Congress is willing to do more than House Democratic leadership to hold Donald Trump accountable?" said Heidi Hess, co-director of CREDO Action, in a statement. "Nancy Pelosi and the rest of her leadership team are running out of excuses for delaying the inevitable. They must hear Rep. Amash's wake-up call for what it is and heed the growing bipartisan call for initiating impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump."
The congressman's Republican colleagues—and the president himself—were quick to attack Amash, with Michigan state Rep. Jim Lowe threatening to challenge Amash in a primary next year, vowing to run as a "pro-Trump" candidate and accusing the five-term representative of being "out of touch" with his constituents.
In fact, support for impeachment has risen steadily in recent weeks, with 45 percent of respondents in a Reuters/Ipsos poll last month saying they would back proceedings against Trump. Only 43 percent of Americans supported impeaching President Richard Nixon in the months before a House committee passed articles of impeachment against him.
According to Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), while Amash is the only member of the party who has said so publicly, many Republicans in Congress privately believe the president should be impeached. "Those who have read the Mueller report cannot avoid the conclusion that the president and some of his absolutely core advisers engaged in profoundly disappointing, reprehensible conduct," Coons told CNN's "New Day" on Monday. "Conduct that would rise to the level of an obstruction of justice charge if he were anyone other than the president of the United States."
Tlaib applauded Amash for calling on Congress to hold the president accountable—as Mueller suggested in his report—and invited him to join her in co-sponsoring her resolution to introduce articles of impeachment.