Republican lawmaker Justin Amash said on Saturday that he believed Donald Trump has engaged in “impeachable conduct,” becoming the first politician of his party to call for removing the president from his party.
The Michigan representative also accused Attorney General William Barr of “deliberately” misleading the public over the actual content and tenor of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference aimed at tipping the election to Trump.
In a series of tweets, Amash − a member of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus − said “few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report,” which identified “multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice.”
“Undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence,” he added.
“Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behaviour that meet the threshold for impeachment.”
Amash’s comments went even further than those by most Democratic leaders in Congress.
Fellow Michigan lawmaker Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat, urged Amash to co-sponsor her impeachment resolution.
“@justinamash come find me in 1628 Longworth. I’ve got an impeachment investigation resolution you’re going to want to cosponsor,” she wrote in response to Amash’s thread.
Trump has proclaimed he was fully exonerated by Mueller’s report.
But some Democrats argue that the document lays out multiple occasions in which the president may have obstructed justice, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, a 2020 presidential candidate who has called for impeachment proceedings.
Other senior Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have cautioned against such a move, stressing it could deeply divide the nation of about 325 million people.
They warn it could backfire politically in the run-up to the 2020 election, especially with the Republican-controlled Senate likely to acquit the president in the event of impeachment by the House of Representatives.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on May 8 that Trump was moving closer to impeachment with his efforts to thwart congressional subpoenas and obstruct lawmakers’ efforts to oversee his administration.
Still, Democrats are divided about impeachment and Pelosi also said impeachment proceedings would be “divisive” for the country.
The White House and the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comments about Amash’s tweets.
Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee wrote on Twitter “it’s sad to see... Amash parroting the Democrats’ talking points on Russia.” She said the only people still concerned about the Russia investigation are Trump’s political foes “hoping to defeat him in 2020 by any desperate means possible.” Amash, who represents Michigan’s 3rd congressional district, wrote that he had read Mueller’s full redacted report, but that few members of Congress had.
In February Amash became the lone Republican to co-sponsor a resolution in the US House of Representatives to reject the emergency Trump declared at the U.S.-Mexico border to build a wall there, in a stinging rebuke to the president..
Impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, Amash wrote on Saturday. But the risk during a time 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.”
Trump has asked for files to be prepared on pardoning several US military members accused of or convicted of war crimes, including one slated to stand trial on charges of shooting unarmed civilians while in Iraq, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
Trump requested the immediate preparation of paperwork needed, indicating he is considering pardons for the men around Memorial Day on May 27, the report said, citing two unnamed US officials. Assembling pardon files normally takes months, but the Justice Department has pressed for the work to be completed before that holiday weekend, one of the officials said.