Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) resigned Monday evening from the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative congressional group he helped launch in January 2015, after putting himself at odds with lawmakers in calling for impeachment proceedings to begin against President Donald Trump.
“I have the highest regard for them and they’re my close friends,” Amash said in a statement to CNN. “I didn’t want to be a further distraction for the group.”
The Michigan Republican raised eyebrows less than a month ago when he accused President Trump of committing “impeachable” offenses stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on now-debunked collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia. The libertarian-leaning lawmaker also alleged Attorney General William Barr misrepresented Mueller’s key findings. Notwithstanding Amash’s assertions, Mueller found no criminal conspiracy occurred between the 2016 Trump campaign and the Russian government, and further, Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein used the special counsel’s findings to determine the president had not obstructed justice during the two-year-plus probe.
Amash’s position has earned him strong rebuke from Republicans, including President Trump, who has hit back at the congressman, calling him a “loser” and an attention-seeker. Last month, the House Freedom Caucus formally condemned Amash’s remarks on impeachment. “It was every single person who totally disagrees with what he says,” Rep. Jim Jordan (D-OH) said of the 30-lawmaker strong vote. “What concerns me is Justin was viewed as a leader, right, on protecting privacy rights first to First Amendment rights.”
During a recent town hall, Amash was assailed by Trump supporters, including one African-American voter who criticized the congressman’s “demonizing” calls to start impeachment.
“From what I’m seeing, for the black community and minorities, is that Trump is good for America,” the voter said. “And I’m wondering why the Republicans and Democrats are fighting him so much when he’s doing such a good job?”
“You’re demonizing him on something that you know is not true,” he added. “It’s just bewildering to me that you can treat the president of the United States in this way, especially when he’s doing such a good job for minorities and black people.”
Amash responded to the unidentified man, stating that many people “disagree” with his position and claimed “nobody’s demonizing” President Trump. “The person who demonizes people every day is Donald Trump,” he claimed. “He goes on Twitter and calls people names and says the most egregious things about people.”
On top of criticism from members of his own party, Amash’s position has also earned him a primary challenge from Michigan State Rep. Jim Lower (R) and Army National Guardsman Tom Norton.
“Congressman Justin Amash tweets yesterday calling for President Trump’s impeachment show how out of touch he is with the truth and how out of touch he is with people he represents,” Lower said at the time of his campaign launch, per the Detroit Free Press. “He must be replaced and I am going to do it.”