Justin Amash: Republican who took on Trump won't rule out White House run

Martin Pengelly
Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Justin Amash, the Michigan congressman who left the Republican party over his criticism of Donald Trump and support for impeachment, has refused to rule out a run for the White House.

Related: It’s Warren, Sanders or Biden vs Trump – all the other Democrats are irrelevant | Robert Reich

“I think I’m very effective in the House,” the Michigan independent told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “I think my constituents want an independent congressman. My support in the district has been great as an independent.

“But we do need new voices on the national stage running for national office, including the presidency.”

Amash criticised the Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in a sprawling field.

“I don’t think that the current Democratic field is sufficient,” he said. “If you look at the top three candidates on the Democratic side” – Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – “they’re all over 70 years old.

“The president’s over 70 years old. I think that there is a large segment of the population that is not represented in the top candidates on either side of the aisle, and that’s something I think about.”

Amash is running for re-election as an independent but he told NBC he “wouldn’t say 100% of anything”.

“I’m running for Congress,” he added, when asked about the possibility of being the Libertarian candidate for the White House, “but I keep things open and I wouldn’t rule anything out”.

In the 2016 election, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson won 4,489,221 votes, 3.28% of ballots cast. Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the popular vote by nearly 3m but Trump won the presidency in the electoral college.

Amash is a libertarian-tinged founder member of the hard-right Freedom Caucus who drifted away from its support for Trump.

Related: Republican congressman announces retirement after saying he is open to Trump impeachment

He first called for impeachment – and was attacked by Trump in return – earlier this year, over the president’s behaviour in relation to Russian election interference and the investigation into links between Trump and Moscow led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The current impeachment inquiry is focused on Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate his political rivals.

Earlier this month, Amash told the Hill: “Assuming the articles are drafted properly, yeah, I think there’s impeachable conduct that could be included in articles that I would support.”

Amash’s former Republican colleagues are under increasing pressure. On Friday, Francis Rooney of Florida indicated that he could support impeachment if it comes to a vote on whether to send Trump to the Senate for trial.

On Saturday, Rooney told Fox News he had decided to retire, becoming the 14th Republican to decide to leave the House in 2020.

On Sunday he told CNN’s State of the Union he had not made up his mind about impeachment. He also said he did not know if he still called himself a Republican, and added: “We only have one thing in our life, and that’s our reputation … And so I’m not going to ruin mine over anything, much less politics.”