Representative Justin Amash (R., Mich.) was confronted Monday with a “pro-Trump” primary challenger in the person of Republican state representative Jim Lower, after becoming the first congressional Republican to accuse the president of engaging in “impeachable conduct” over the weekend.
Lower told the Detroit Free Press Monday that he had been planning to announce his challenge to Amash in July but decided on Saturday to accelerate his timeline after the congressman forcefully condemned the behavior attributed to Trump by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“Congressman Justin Amash’s tweets yesterday calling for President Trump’s impeachment show how out of touch he is with the truth and how out of touch he is with people he represents,” said Lower, who describes himself as “pro-Trump.” “He must be replaced, and I am going to do it.”
Amash is a three-term incumbent who has cultivated a reputation as a principled libertarian-leaning conservative unafraid to buck Republican leadership on issues such as Trump’s national-emergency declaration. On Saturday, he cemented that reputation by accusing his Republican colleagues, and Attorney General William Barr, of whitewashing Trump’s attempts to obstruct Mueller’s investigation out of a misguided sense of party loyalty.
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.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 18, 2019
Trump responded with a tweet thread that accused Amash of exploiting the controversy surrounding the Mueller report to increase his own notoriety.
….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
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy condemned Amash’s stance during an appearance on Fox News over the weekend, and even suggested he might be ousted from the caucus.
“You’ve got to understand Justin Amash. He’s been in Congress quite some time. I think he’s asked one question in all the committees that he’s been in,” 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. He’s not a criminal attorney. He’s never met Mueller. He’s never met Barr.”
“It’s very disturbing. . . . He never supported the president, and I think he’s just looking for attention,” McCarthy added.
Amash has not ruled out a 2020 presidential run on the Libertarian party ticket.