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Rep. Amash says he's not worried about losing his seat after impeachment comments

Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio
Justin Amash at a previous town hall event in Grand Rapids in 2017.

U.S. Representative Justin Amash says he’s not worried about losing his seat, despite facing criticism from members of his own party for saying President Donald Trump engaged in “impeachable conduct.”

Amash (R-Cascade Township) spoke during a town hall event on Tuesday night in Grand Rapids.

He also called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump.

"I think it would be appropriate for her to proceed with that," Amash said. 

He answered questions for more than two hours at Grand Rapids Christian High School, a school he attended. The school is also where he reportedly first started a friendship with members of the powerful Devos family. The town hall event was held in an auditorium named after Richard and Helen Devos.

Last week, multiple outlets reported the Devos family has decided to drop its support for Amash, following his comments on impeachment. Amash is the only Republican in either the House or Senate who has come out in favor of starting impeachment proceedings.

At the town hall event, one person asked whether he’s worried he’ll lose his seat over the stance.

“No, I’m not concerned about it,” Amash responded. “I believe the people are smart enough to figure out what’s going on. I really believe that.”

Amash added that he won the district with a larger share of the vote in 2016 than Trump.

He first announced his stance during a series of Tweets on May 18, when he said Trump had "engaged in impeachable conduct." Amash says he carefully read the full 448-page report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller before reaching any conclusion.

"[A] lot of them think I'm right about the Mueller report, they just won't say it," Amash said of his Republican colleagues in Congress.

Amash's impeachment comments have been denounced by many members of his own party. The House Freedom Caucus, which Amash co-founded, voted to condemn him.  

Amash claimed at the town hall that many of his colleagues secretly support him.

“By the way, a lot of them think I’m right about the Mueller report, they just won’t say it – a lot of the Republicans,” he said.

And he said the reason is because people are punished by leadership whenever they go against the party.

“You saw what happened to me from our so-called leader, Kevin McCarthy,” Amash said. “I read the Mueller report. I’m sure he did not read it. I stated what it actually says, and he just resorted to ad-hominem attacks and various other attacks that have nothing to do with the Mueller report.”

McCarthy is the minority leader for House Republicans. He’s criticized Amash for his comments on the Mueller report, saying Amash is “just looking for attention.”

Many of those who attended the town hall in Grand Rapids said they supported Amash's impeachment statements. He received a standing ovation when he first entered the room. 

"A lot of the people here that are cheering you and applauding your courage, most likely a lot of them didn't vote for you," said Anna Timmer, who lives in Grand Rapids and said Amash lost her support after calling for impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

But not everyone in the room agreed with Amash's statements. Some said they'll no longer support him.

“A lot of the people here that are cheering you and applauding your courage, most likely a lot of them didn’t vote for you,” said Anna Timmer, who lives in Grand Rapids. “I, on the other hand, have voted for you in every election since 2010. And, in fact, I worked on your first campaign in 2010. I knocked on hundreds of doors for you.”

But Timmer said she no longer supports him. She said he called for impeachment proceedings even though he couldn’t prove President Trump had a “corrupt intent” in the incidents cited in the Mueller report.

“That’s not what the Mueller report says,” Amash interjected.

Timmer continued, and said Amash made his claims about impeachment knowing there was no chance the President would be removed from office.

“So you get to make the political grandstanding that raises your national profile,” she said. “You are now a national household name. That’s called political capital. And you are hoping to launch your star bigger and brighter than District 3.”

Amash has represented the district since 2011.

State Representative Jim Lower (R-Greenville), and Tom Norton, a veteran and former village trustee, have already declared they'llrun against Amash in the Republican primary for the seat in the 2020 election.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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