Trump attacks Rep. Amash as a 'loser' and 'lightweight' after the Republican calls for impeachment

William Cummings

President Donald Trump responded to a Republican House member's call for impeachment on Sunday, calling the lawmaker a "loser" who seeks to make headlines. 

On Saturday, Rep. Justin Amash said in a tweet that Attorney General Barr "deliberately misrepresented" the report from special counsel Robert Mueller investigation into Russian election interference, which he said showed that Trump "engaged in impeachable conduct."

The Michigan Republican said he made that statement "only after having read Mueller’s redacted report carefully and completely." 

Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that he was "never a fan" of Amash, whom he called "a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy." 

"Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!" he tweeted.

During an interview on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., agreed that Amash made his statement because he "wants to have attention."

"Now, you've got to understand Justin Amash," McCarthy said. "He votes more with Nancy Pelosi, than he ever votes with me. It's a question whether he's even in our Republican conference as a whole. What he wants is attention in this process." 

The president said he did not believe Amash had actually read Mueller's report. He claimed the report was "strong on NO COLLUSION" between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin and "ultimately, NO OBSTRUCTION." At the same time, he slammed the report as "biased" because it was "'composed' of 18 Angry Dems who hated Trump." 

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But Mueller's report explicitly said that the investigation looked into 10 potentially obstructive acts and the evidence did not clear the president. Rather, it said, "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him" and punted that decision to the attorney general. Barr and then-deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ultimately decided not to bring charges against the president. 

The Mueller report also found that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in "sweeping and systematic fashion" with "a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton" and a hacking operation that sought to uncover information damaging to Clinton. 

The report concluded "the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts," but it did not find "that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities." 

Because the report did not find evidence of a conspiracy, Barr has argued the president could not have obstructed justice because there was no crime to cover up in the first place. Trump made a similar argument on Sunday. 

"Anyway, how do you Obstruct when there is no crime and, in fact, the crimes were committed by the other side?" he asked, referring to his belief that the investigation was a politically-motivated attack. 

Many legal experts have disputed the assertion that obstruction requires an "underlying crime." And Amash said he believed Mueller's report showed that Trump's acts had "all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence." 

Amash also argued that impeachment "does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct." 

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Many congressional Democrats, including many presidential candidates, have agreed with Amash's call to begin impeachment proceedings. But the party's leadership, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has yet to back such a move

Pelosi has said impeachment would be too "divisive" for the nation without greater bipartisan support. And, so far, Amash has been the only Republican member of Congress to back impeachment. 

On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that Amash "showed more courage than any other Republican" in Congress, but didn't change the fact that there were "no signs" that impeachment could "even be potentially successful in the Senate." 

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Even Republican lawmakers who are critical of Trump, such as Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, are still opposed to impeachment. 

During an interview with CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, Romney said he was "troubled" by Mueller's report, which he said revealed behavior "you would not want to see from the highest office in the land," but that "it did not suggest to me that this was time to call for impeachment." 

Romney said that Amash had made a "courageous statement" and "I respect him," but he "has reached a different conclusion than I have." 

"I just don't think that there is the full element that you need to prove an obstruction of justice case," he said. 

Romney said that beyond the legal considerations, impeachment is also about "practicality and politics." 

"And the American people just aren't there. And I think those that are considering impeachment have to look also at the jury, which would be the Senate. The Senate is certainly not there either." 

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump attacks Rep. Amash as a 'loser' and 'lightweight' after the Republican calls for impeachment