Rep. Justin Amash took to the Sunday morning political programs to defend his July 4 editorial announcing his departure from the Republican Party — and suggested he may end up running for president.
Amash appeared first on CNN’s “State of the Union” to announced that he’s mulling over the possibility of running as a third party candidate for president. Amash is libertarian, but says he would be open to launching a bid as an Independent.
“I still wouldn’t rule anything like that out, I believe I have to use my skills, my public influence, where it serves the country best,” Amash said. “And I believe I have to defend the Constitution in whichever way that works best.”
When he runs to retain his Congressional seat in November, Amash will run as an Independent instead of as a Republican, a decision he announced in a widely touted op-ed published on July 4 — a declaration of independence, so to speak, from the GOP. In the essay, Amash says he isn’t blaming a single entity for his decision and did not name President Donald Trump, though Amash is, so far, the only Republican member of Congress to join the campaign to begin impeachment proceedings.
“I’ve had concerns with the Republican Party for several years,” Amash wrote. “I’ve had concerns with the party system generally. When I first got to Congress I thought I could change things from the inside, but as I’ve spent time there I’ve seen that not only me, I don’t think there is anyone in there who can change the system.”
The decision, Amash contends, is a principled one, but it does have a practical advantage: Amash has only barely squeaked through the Republican primary for his own seat in the last two election cycles, and his latest opponent, Jim Lowe, had promised to oust Amash in an upcoming Republican primary. Amash hails from Grand Rapids, Michigan, which has shifted from a moderate district to a highly polarized one, and there remains significant support for Trump among Amash’s constituents.
Declaring his departure from the GOP allows Amash to avoid a primary and skip straight to the general election, where he can challenge Lowe by appealing to both Republicans and Democrats in his district.
The 2020 presidential run may just be icing on the cake. It certainly made President Donald Trump angry enough to issue a tweet about it over the weekend.
“Great news for the Republican Party as one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress is ‘quitting’ the Party,” Trump tweeted in response to Amash’s op-ed. “No Collusion, No Obstruction! Knew he couldn’t get the nomination to run again in the Great State of Michigan. Already being challenged for his seat. A total loser!”
Amash reportedly brushed off the criticism, according to Fox News, reiterating — as he did in the op-ed — that his loyalty is to the Constitution of the United States and not to the president.
The Michigan Congressman held his harshest words for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), telling CNN towards the end of his interview that he found Pelosi’s reluctance to actually issue articles of impeachment cowardly, and challenged the Speaker to bring the case against Trump before Congress ahead of the 2020 elections. That’s not likely; Pelosi and other senior Democrats would much prefer the 2020 election be the referendum on whether Trump and his 2016 campaign team obstructed justice, and not hold the contest in Congress.