Michigan Repubican Rep. Justin Amash announced Monday evening he was leaving the influential conservative House Freedom Caucus, just weeks after he attracted the ire of his colleagues by arguing in Twitter posts that President Trump had committed impeachable offenses, Fox News has learned.
Amash, speaking at a Freedom Caucus board meeting, insisted his departure was voluntary. Amash said he did not want to continue to be a “further distraction” for the caucus, which is chaired by North Carolina GOP Rep. Mark Meadows.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a member of the Freedom Caucus, told Fox News’ “Ingraham Angle” Monday evening that Meadows and Amash mutually came to the decision after several conversations.
Jordan said the Republican members of the group still consider Amash a friend, but that their disagreements were “sharp” and significant.
“Some of the president’s actions were inherently corrupt,” Amash, who said Trump had “engaged in impeachable conduct,” tweeted in May. “Other actions were corrupt — and therefore impeachable — because the president took them to serve his own interests.”
Amash also accused Attorney General Bill Barr of intentionally misrepresenting Mueller’s report through lawyerly sleights of hand.
President Trump responded by writing that Amash was a “loser” and a “lightweight” seeking to gain national name recognition.
At a town hall in Grand Rapids, Mich., late last month, some of Amash’s constituents excoriated him for pushing for impeachment, while several others commended him for breaking ranks with his party and standing on principle.
“You talk about the Constitution and how important that is, but yet nothing that Mueller came out within this report, nothing that has been said about him and President Trump is constitutional and has been a smear tactic because that’s how the Democrats work,” one Trump supporter told Amash. “How can you become a Democrat when we voted for you as a Republican because you’ve just drank the same Kool-Aid as all the Democrats.”
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. If he actually read the biased Mueller Report, “composed” by 18 Angry Dems who hated Trump,….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2019
Amash then defended his record in Congress, telling the town hall attendees he has “one of the most constitutionally conservative and fiscally conservative” voting records of all sitting lawmakers and that he’s at the top “of nearly all the scorecards” of conservative groups.
Amash had a high 88 rating from the American Conservative Union (ACU) in 2018, up from 78 in 2017. Jordan scored 100 for both years, while Meadows notched 91 and 100, respectively. The group’s Federal Legislative Ratings scores members of Congress based on how they vote in line with conservative principles. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., by contrast, had a 4 rating in 2018.
Another woman at the town hall, Anna Timmer, criticized Amash for “grandstanding” and trying to raise his “national profile,” while arguing that an impeachment inquiry would “tear this country apart.”
She later told Fox News the town hall was “packed with Democrats” who were “shaking their fists” at her.
In May, another caucus member, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, echoed Timmer’s complaints. (McCarthy’s ACU rating was 80 in 2018.)
“This is exactly what he wants, he wants to have attention,” McCarthy said on “Sunday Morning Futures.” He went on to express doubt over Amash’s Republican leanings in general.
“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. 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.”
Amash criticized Republicans and Democrats for rushing to judgment over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, accusing his colleagues of speaking out based on which side of the political aisle they are on, and not the facts.
“Few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report; their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation,” Amash tweeted, “and it showed, with representatives and senators from both parties issuing definitive statements on the 448-page report’s conclusions within just hours of its release.”
McCarthy, meanwhile, accused Amash of simply being contrarian, saying, “You could have a bill with 400 votes all supporting it, there will always be one opposed and that is Justin Amash.”
Amash stated earlier this year that he was considering running against Trump in 2020 as a third-party candidate.
From New York Post