The roll call of former and current Republican officials who have fled the party — or effectively been drummed out of it — after criticizing President Donald Trump is long and growing.
Republicans who broke with the president include some of the party’s leading luminaries — several members of the Bush family, the McCains, and anti-Trump pundits like New York Times columnist David Brooks. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona loudly criticized the president, then opted not to run for re-election last fall. The same fate befell Bob Corker, the former U.S. Senator from Tennessee, who also gave up his seat this year.
But no Republican has been more full-throated in his repudiation of Donald Trump than Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who this past May delivered the ultimate rebuke to the president, becoming the lone member in Congress to call for the start of impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Given his criticism of the leader of his party, it was perhaps only a matter of time before Amash formally left the GOP, and so he did so in a Washington Post op-ed. In the piece, which ran on July 4, Amash issued what he called his declaration of independence from the Trump-led GOP.
As of Thursday, the initial designating his party affiliation after his name will no longer be (R) for Republican, but (I) for Independent.
“Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party,” Amash wrote, linking to the piece on his Twitter account.
Today, I’m declaring my independence.https://t.co/4e5TeVtGRK
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) July 4, 2019
A self-described libertarian, Amash began calling for Trump’s impeachment after the release of the report by independent counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s efforts to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
After the Mueller report detailed a litany of ways that the administration appears to have obstructed justice, Amash made the case for President Trump’s impeachment in a series of tweets that exhaustively laid out strong legal underpinnings of the case.
Here are my principal conclusions:
1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report.
2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.
3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances.
4. Few members of Congress have read the report.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 18, 2019
Despite his rejection of the president, Amash in his op-ed couched his move to leave the GOP not as a reaction to being shunned by other members of his party or his disgust with Trump. Instead, he said he was motivated by the bitter partisanship of current-day Washington.
American politics “is in a partisan death spiral,” he wrote, adding that in recent years he has become “disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it. The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.”
Amash urged Americans to also consider a political path that would reject allegiance to one of the two major parties, which for years have been in a political deadlock and unable to find common ground on immigration, infrastructure and a host of other pressing issues.
“No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us,” he wrote. “I’m asking you to believe that we can do better than this two-party system — and to work toward it.”
Trump, for his part, tweeted his delight about the news of Amash’s departure from the party.
Great news for the Republican Party as one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress is “quitting” the Party. No Collusion, No Obstruction! Knew he couldn’t get the nomination to run again in the Great State of Michigan. Already being challenged for his seat. A total loser!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2019
“Great news for the Republican Party as one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress is quitting’ the Party,” the president wrote.
“No Collusion, No Obstruction! Knew he couldn’t get the nomination to run again in the Great State of Michigan. Already being challenged for his seat. A total loser!”
This story has been updated adding a Trump tweet.