Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., bolstered his call for Donald Trump’s impeachment Monday with a new Twitter thread rebutting arguments made by the president’s supporters.
A libertarian who was elected to Congress in the tea party wave of 2010, Amash ticked off four main criticisms of his view that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report showed Trump “engaged in impeachable conduct,” followed by his own response.
People who say there were no underlying crimes and therefore the president could not have intended to illegally obstruct the investigation—and therefore cannot be impeached—are resting their argument on several falsehoods:
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 20, 2019
“1. They say there were no underlying crimes.
In fact, there were many crimes revealed by the investigation, some of which were charged, and some of which were not but are nonetheless described in Mueller’s report.”
To date, Mueller’s investigation has yielded 199 criminal counts and 37 people and entities charged. Seven people have pleaded guilty; five people have been sentenced to prison.
“2. They say obstruction of justice requires an underlying crime.
In fact, obstruction of justice does not require the prosecution of an underlying crime, and there is a logical reason for that. Prosecutors might not charge a crime precisely *because* obstruction of justice denied them timely access to evidence that could lead to a prosecution.
If an underlying crime were required, then prosecutors could charge obstruction of justice only if it were unsuccessful in completely obstructing the investigation. This would make no sense.”
On Sunday, Trump made the assertion himself that it is impossible to obstruct justice without the existence of an underlying crime.
....he would see that it was nevertheless strong on NO COLLUSION and, ultimately, NO OBSTRUCTION...Anyway, how do you Obstruct when there is no crime and, in fact, the crimes were committed by the other side? Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2019
In part, this is why Attorney General William Barr’s verdict on the obstruction question has been front and center for those claiming that Mueller’s report exonerated the president.
A letter written in early May and signed by more than 400 former federal prosecutors and Justice Department employees, however, concluded that if Trump were not president, he would have been charged with obstruction of justice based on Mueller’s findings.
“Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice,” the statement read.
“3. They imply the president should be permitted to use any means to end what he claims to be a frivolous investigation, no matter how unreasonable his claim.
In fact, the president could not have known whether every single person Mueller investigated did or did not commit any crimes.”
Before Mueller presented his findings to Barr, debate raged over whether Trump had the legal authority to fire him and shutter the investigation into his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia. If Trump had immediately acted to kill the investigation, his former campaign aides, national security adviser, campaign chairman and personal lawyer may never have been held accountable for their crimes.
“4. They imply ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ requires charges of a statutory crime or misdemeanor.
In fact, ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ is not defined in the Constitution and does not require corresponding statutory charges. The context implies conduct that violates the public trust — and that view is echoed by the Framers of the Constitution and early American scholars.”
Section 4 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution states:
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
The president’s Republican supporters assert that a crime must be charged to clear the legal hurdle of high crimes and misdemeanors, but the Constitution does not specifically settle that question.
Trump defenders like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have discounted Amash’s call for impeachment by questioning his party loyalty.
“He votes more with Nancy Pelosi than he ever votes with me,” McCarthy said Sunday on Fox News. “It's a question whether he’s even in our Republican conference as a whole."
A corporate lawyer before being elected to Congress, Amash has earned an 88 percent score from the American Conservative Union and a 100 percent rating from the conservative group FreedomWorks. He has voted with Trump 92 percent of the time.
But becoming the first Republican to call for Trump’s impeachment has its consequences, and Amash learned Monday that he would face a primary challenge in 2020 from state Rep. Jim Lower.
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