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Justin Amash Leaves Freedom Caucus to Avoid Being a ‘Distraction’

Representative Justin Amash (R, Mich.) arrives for a House Oversight Committee Hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 22, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Representative Justin Amash (R., Mich.) announced Monday night that he was stepping down from the House Freedom Caucus to avoid becoming a “further distraction” to the group amid the ongoing flurry of national media attention prompted by his call for President Trump’s impeachment.

Amash, who co-founded the Freedom Caucus in 2015, told CNN that he has “the highest regard for them, and they’re my close friends,” but he “didn’t want to be a further distraction for the group.”

In keeping with his reputation as a gadfly willing to buck party leadership, Amash became the first Republican to publicly call for Trump’s impeachment following the release of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report. In a lengthy Twitter thread, Amash argued that Trump’s attempts to obstruct Mueller’s investigation were a betrayal of the public trust and, as such, constituted grounds for impeachment.

Amash is now facing two Trump-allied 2020 primary challengers in Michigan and lacks support among party leadership and founding members of the Freedom Caucus. He was, however, greeted warmly during his first trip home to his district after denouncing the president, laying out his rationale for breaking with his party during a two-hour town hall before a packed auditorium in Grand Rapids.

The 39-year-old lawmaker also refused to rule out the possibility of running for president on the Libertarian ticket in 2020 during the town hall.

“I’ve said many times, I don’t rule things like that out,” Amash said. “If you’re fighting to defend the Constitution, if you find a way to do that that’s different and maybe more effective, then you have to think about that.”

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