Michigan Rep. Justin Amash said on Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s threat to hold up legislation until Democrats drop their investigations into him is “irresponsible.”
“I think that’s irresponsible, but what do you expect?” Amash told CNN after Trump’s Rose Garden appearance denouncing Democrats’ ongoing debate over impeachment.
Amash over the weekend became the first, and so far only, Republican to publicly describe Trump’s conduct as impeachable, citing special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
He has largely flown under the radar since then, avoiding television appearances even as his comments made the question of impeachment more urgent for House Democrats.
“My job is to defend the Constitution. I’m laying out the information I want to lay out and it’s not about getting on TV or anything like that,” he told CNN on Wednesday afternoon. “I want to make sure that I’m presenting it in the most clear-cut, sober way possible.”
Amash has, however, been willing to talk to students from his state visiting the Capitol.
On Tuesday, Amash elaborated on his position regarding impeachment with a group of school children. He was back at it on Wednesday, fielding questions from a group of eighth-graders. They asked about his favorite cereal, the lessons he’s learned during his five terms in Congress and his advice for kids interested in politics.
“Don’t let people convince you that principles only matter when the outcome is in your favor,” Amash told the group. “Principles matter especially, and really only, when the outcome is not in your favor.”
In going out on a limb to oppose the President in a party that has become increasingly loyal to Trump, Amash has put his political career in jeopardy and made enemies out of prior allies.
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He has faced attacks from Trump, who said Amash has “been a loser for a long time,” as well as blowback from top party officials. He’s also lost the support of the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who had been major donors, according to the Daily Beast and the Detroit News.
“I don’t have any reaction to it,” Amash said of the DeVos news after his event with the group of eighth-graders on Wednesday afternoon.
Amash has always been fiercely independent of the party apparatus and is comfortable splitting with conventional GOP positions on controversial topics, such as surveillance and foreign policy.
But he says a few of his Republican peers have privately expressed sympathy to his views.
“There are people who are still reviewing [the Mueller report],” he said. “I’ve had people who, after I made my tweets said, ‘Boy, they’d better review it more carefully now and they hadn’t really gone through it before.’”
“I mean, volume two speaks for itself,” he added. “So people who are baffled by it, I wonder how carefully they read volume two because it’s there. There’s a difference between skimming the pages and actually reading it and understanding it.”
But Amash has no plans yet to sign onto any of the existing Democratic impeachment resolutions.
“I’d want to make sure that whatever I do legislatively is based on the positions I have and not based on some positions someone else has,” he said.
Amash also affirmed he plans to run for reelection to his House seat in 2020, though he again did not rule out running for president.
He did push back on the idea that an active Libertarian Party lobbying campaign is underway to convince him to switch parties and be their nominee.
“If there’s an active recruiting effort, I am not aware of it,” he said.