Libertarian-leaning congressman Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who made national headlines last weekend for smearing Attorney General William Barr in no uncertain terms and seeming to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, is now being urged by many to run for president in 2020 under the Libertarian Party partisan banner.
The Hill reports:
In interviews this year, Amash has toyed with the idea of switching parties and running for president. The Michigan Republican has described himself as the only Libertarian member of Congress and has been increasingly critical of the GOP, accusing the party of abandoning its conservative values in the age of Trump.
Libertarian National Committee Chairman Nicholas Sarwark told The Hill there’s a full-scale effort underway to convince Amash to register as a Libertarian and run for president against Trump.
“There are a lot of Libertarian Party members actively encouraging Rep. Amash to switch parties and seek the Libertarian nomination,” Sarwark said. “This is probably the most organized recruitment effort I’ve seen going back to 2012 when people were trying to recruit [former Texas Rep.] Ron Paul.”
As The Hill also notes, many anti-Trump Republicans, including longtime Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, have been actively courting a third-party challenger to Trump. These same Trump-critical Republicans have often praised Amash’s calling for impeachment, despite not always agreeing with Amash on his more libertarian-leaning stances on surveillance, security, and foreign policy issues.
“I say this as someone at odds with Amash on lots of issues important to me (and I think to him): All honor to Justin Amash, who has done so much today to set an example of constitutional responsibility and mature, civic discourse,” Kristol tweeted.
“If Trump’s the GOP nominee, I’d vote for [Justin Amash] as the [Libertarian Party] nominee in a heartbeat” added National Review’s David French.
As Reason points out, Amash’s Michigander status would have huge political ramifications for Trump were he to enter the race. After all, Michigan was one of three Rust Belt states — including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — that Trump very narrowly carried in 2016. If Trump loses all three of those states in 2020, his Electoral College path to re-election is exceedingly narrow.
Amash set political Twitter on fire last weekend by tweeting, after reading the full report recently completed by special counsel Robert Mueller: “Here are my principal conclusions: 1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report. 2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. 3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances. 4. Few members of Congress have read the report.”
In subsequent tweets as part of the same tweet thread, Amash also stated:
I offer these conclusions only after having read Mueller’s redacted report carefully and completely, having read or watched pertinent statements and testimony, and having discussed this matter with my staff, who thoroughly reviewed materials and provided me with further analysis.
In comparing Barr’s principal conclusions, congressional testimony, and other statements to Mueller’s report, it is clear that Barr intended to mislead the public about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s analysis and findings.
Barr’s misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies, which he hopes people will not notice.
Under our Constitution, the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined, the context implies conduct that violates the public trust.
Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.
In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying 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.
Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, 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.
While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.
Our system of checks and balances relies on each branch’s jealously guarding its powers and upholding its duties under our Constitution. When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law—the foundation of liberty—crumbles.
We’ve witnessed members of Congress from both parties shift their views 180 degrees—on the importance of character, on the principles of obstruction of justice—depending on whether they’re discussing Bill Clinton or Donald Trump.
Few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report; their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation—and it showed, with representatives and senators from both parties issuing definitive statements on the 448-page report’s conclusions within just hours of its release.
America’s institutions depend on officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system even when to do so is personally inconvenient or yields a politically unfavorable outcome. Our Constitution is brilliant and awesome; it deserves a government to match it.