Representative Justin Amash (R., Mich.) lashed out against Representative Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) during a Tuesday town hall, arguing that the House minority leader’s intolerance for dissent within his caucus on the question of Trump’s impeachment betrayed a lack of character.
Speaking to a packed auditorium in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Amash referred to McCarthy as a “so-called leader” who resorted to personal attacks when responding to Amash’s description of Trump’s conduct as “impeachable” because he could not refute the underlying arguments.
“I read the Mueller report. I’m sure he didn’t read it. He resorted to ad hominem attacks; that’s the kind of ‘leadership’ we now have in Congress,” Amash said to applause.
In response to Amash’s lengthy tweet thread outlining why the behavior ascribed to President Trump in the Mueller report betrayed the public trust, McCarthy argued that the three-term congressman was simply using the controversy surrounding the report to raise his own profile.
“What he wants is attention in this process. He’s not a criminal attorney. He’s never met Mueller. He’s never met Barr. And now he’s coming forward with this?” McCarthy said during a Fox News interview. “He wants a Sunday show to put his name forward with a question.”
Amash went on to suggest that McCarthy’s response to his criticism of the president was indicative of the problematic top-down nature of modern congressional politics, in which leadership sets the agenda and suppresses internal dissent by threatening to pull institutional support from rank-and-file members who stray from the party line.
The 39-year-old libertarian lawmaker also continued to defend his assertion that Trump’s attempts to obstruct Mueller’s investigation are “impeachable” regardless of whether the underlying crime of criminal coordination with the Kremlin can be established.
“Clearly, things that violate the public trust are impeachable,” Amash said.
“We have a job to do, and I think we owe it to the American people to represent them to ensure that the people we have in office are doing the right thing, are of good character, aren’t violating the public trust,” he added.
During the town hall, Amash again declined to rule out a possible 2020 presidential run on the Libertarian party ticket.