The House Freedom Caucus on Monday night formally condemned one of its founding members for declaring that President Trump committed impeachable offenses, but stopped short of kicking Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) out of the hard-line conservative group.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee and a former chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said that every single member in attendance during a weekly caucus meeting was unified in their opposition toward Amash’s comments. The group, which took a show of hands, needs the support of 80 percent of its members to take a formal position on an issue.
“It was every single person who totally disagrees with what he says,” Jordan said after the meeting.
Amash did not attend the meeting, but Jordan said he spoke to Amash Saturday night to ask, “What are you doing?”
GOP lawmakers who attended Monday night’s meeting said lawmakers vented their frustrations with Amash, who made waves over the weekend for becoming the first Republican to say that Trump could be impeached for his conduct during special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and that Attorney General William Barr “deliberately misrepresented” the report.
Amash, a 39-year-old libertarian, has long been a lone wolf in Congress, routinely bucking GOP leadership and defying Trump on a number of issues throughout the past two years.
But fellow Freedom Caucus members said his latest comments were “dead wrong”, “shocking” and went too far, even as they simultaneously called Amash a friend and emphasized that he has the right to his own opinion.
Some lawmakers even complained during the private meeting that he still technically belongs to the group — and has been cited as a Freedom Caucus member in the press — despite not showing up for meetings nearly the entire year, according to sources.
And Amash threatened to quit the group last year after the caucus did not stand up for former Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), who lost his primary race after being attacked by Trump.
But the Freedom Caucus allowed Amash to keep his membership in the group, at least for now, while it’s also unlikely he will lose his seat on the House Oversight Committee.
He can keep his spot on committees,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “But in the committee its always been a challenge, because he won’t ask questions.”
Amash, however, could be in jeopardy back home, with Michigan state Rep. Jim Lower announcing a primary challenge against Amash on Monday.
The conservative Club for Growth also put out a statement criticizing Amash, though did not indicate whether they would back his primary challenger.
Yet Amash appears to be unfazed by all the backlash, doubling down on his comments in a string of Monday tweets.
“People who say there were no underlying crimes and therefore the president could not have intended to illegally obstruct the investigation—and therefore cannot be impeached—are resting their argument on several falsehoods,” Amash said.
McCarthy said Amash was just seeking “attention” and would find few, if any, defenders in the GOP conference.
“The only people who I saw come up and congratulate him were Democrats,” McCarthy told reporters.
Indeed, pro-impeachment Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) was seen shaking Amash’s hand on the House floor Monday night.
But McCarthy said Amash’s standing in the GOP conference wouldn’t be impacted because he doesn’t “participate much as is.”
“If you see a ‘no’ or ‘present vote,’ it’s a very good chance that it’s him,” McCarthy said.
Trump, who discussed Amash’s comments with McCarthy, also slammed the Michigan lawmaker on Twitter, calling him a “lightweight” and “loser.”
“Never a fan of @justinamash, a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy,” the president wrote.
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