GOP Rep. Amash says he has a higher loyalty than Trump — to the Constitution

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Rep. Justin Amash, the Michigan Republican who broke with President Trump to vote to overturn his declaration of a national emergency at the southern border, said some of his colleagues are failing to uphold their duties to the Constitution.

Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” if he thinks that “Republicans who are supporting this national emergency are abdicating their responsibilities to the Constitution,” Amash responded “I think so, yes.”

He added: “I don't think that they are all intending to do that.”

Days after the vote, Amash explained his views when he tweeted, “If you think my job is to support the president one hundred percent, then you don’t understand what it means to be a representative in Congress. My job is to support the Constitution one hundred percent and to represent all the people of my district by protecting their rights.”

(Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters; screengrab via Twitter)
Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters; screengrab via Twitter

“The president is violating our constitutional system,” said Amash on Sunday. He didn’t directly address whether he believes the border situation amounts to a crisis, but said Trump shouldn’t be making that call unilaterally.

“There’s a fair debate that there are big problems on the border — some people would call it a crisis — but that has to go through Congress,” said Amash. “The president doesn’t get to decide that he can override Congress simply because Congress doesn’t do what he wants.”

“If there were an emergency in the sense that the president is describing, there would be a lot more consensus,” continued Amash. “When a house is on fire, nobody’s debating whether they should go in to save people or whether they should put out the fire. Everyone understands that’s an emergency.”

He added: “The fact that there’s a debate going on here, there’s not a consensus, indicates that it’s not an emergency in the sense that the president is describing, and he can’t just go around Congress.”

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., followed by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, leaving a closed-door strategy session on Capitol Hill, March 28, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., followed by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, leaving a closed-door strategy session in 2017. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Amash, a fifth-term representative from Grand Rapids, Mich., was one of 13 House Republicans in opposition to the national emergency, a resolution that now goes to the Senate, where the vote is expected to be close. If it does pass, Trump can veto the resolution, and an override is considered unlikely.

Amash had another breakout moment this week when he questioned Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen at the House Oversight Committee hearing, where he, unlike most of the other Republicans on the panel, didn’t use his time to attack the credibility of Cohen, a disbarred lawyer felon who had lied to Congress in earlier testimony.

As Amash put it, instead of “just yelling at him or trying to grandstand or make political statements,” he asked a question that stumped Cohen: “What is the truth that you know President Trump fears the most?”

“That’s a tough question, sir,” said Cohen. “I don’t have an answer for that one.”

Reflecting on his questioning, Amash told “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper that Cohen “deserves the opportunity to be believed.”

Cohen’s testimony has kicked off renewed speculation about possible impeachment motions against Trump, but the head of the House Judiciary Committee said it was too soon to start the process.

“Impeachment is a long way down the road,” Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos." “We don’t have the facts yet, but we’re going to initiate proper investigations.”

Tapper asked Amash about a possible challenge to Trump in 2020 on the Libertarian Party line. Amash said he hasn’t ruled it out.

“That’s not on my radar right now, but I think it is important that we have someone in there who’s representing a vision for America that is different from what these two parties are presenting.”

“Everything has become, do you like President Trump or do you not like President Trump?” continued Amash. “We need to return to basic American principles... and try to move forward together rather than fighting each other all of the time.”


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