A Republican member of the United States House of Representatives said the country's president – who belongs to the same party – should be impeached for trying to obstruct justice in an investigation against him, according to a report from the Dow Jones Newswires supplied to EFE on Saturday.
Rep. Justin Amash, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, said the president had engaged in "impeachable conduct," becoming the first GOP lawmaker to suggest Trump should be removed from office.
In a lengthy series of tweets on Saturday, Amash said he had read the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's 448-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and concluded that Trump had sought to obstruct justice.
"President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct," Amash wrote on Twitter. "I offer these conclusions only after having read Mueller's redacted report carefully and completely, having read or watched pertinent statements and testimony, and having discussed this matter with my staff, who thoroughly reviewed materials and provided me with further analysis." ç
The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Amash's tweets.
The special counsel's report detailed extensive efforts by the Russians to interfere in the 2016 election, but it didn't establish a conspiracy with the Trump campaign.
It also detailed efforts by Trump to influence the investigation but didn't reach a conclusion on whether he obstructed justice.
It is rare for a sitting Republican to criticize Trump so directly; other Republicans who publicly tangled with the president watched their poll numbers drop and last year were driven from office.
The result is that the libertarian-leaning Amash, who represents a Michigan district, has often been the lone voice of GOP criticism against Trump. He has said since the days of the 2016 campaign that he considers Trump unsuitable for the presidency.
Amash holds little influence over Republican leaders in Congress, in part due to his frequent refusal to tow the party line on votes ranging from national-security matters to the budget. He once showed his independent streak by voting against former GOP Rep. John Boehner of Ohio as speaker.
Amash's influence is also limited by his committee assignments. He doesn't sit on the House Judiciary Committee, which would initiate impeachment hearings and draft articles of impeachment should Democrats decide to take that approach. Still, he is a member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, whose chairman has opened multiple investigations into Trump and his White House.
Democrats have been divided on whether to pursue impeachment proceedings against the president. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat, California) has expressed skepticism about the viability of doing so, given that Republicans control the Senate and that they would be unlikely to move against Trump. But she raised the possibility this past week that it could be an option to compel the White House to cooperate with Democratic investigations.
Amash also said Attorney General William Barr had "deliberately misrepresented" the Mueller report, Dow Jones added in its report to EFE.
"In comparing Barr's principal conclusions, congressional testimony, and other statements to Mueller's report, it is clear that Barr intended to mislead the public about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's analysis and findings," Amash said. "Contrary to Barr's portrayal, Mueller's report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment."
The Justice Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Barr has repeatedly denied misrepresenting the Mueller report, but Mueller himself sent the attorney general two private letters before its release expressing concern that Barr's description of the investigation failed to capture the context and nature of its conclusions.
In his series of tweets, Amash also chastised his Republican and Democratic colleagues in Congress for choosing partisanship over appropriate checks and balances on presidential power.
"We've witnessed members of Congress from both parties shift their views 180 degrees – on the importance of character, on the principles of obstruction of justice – depending on whether they're discussing Bill Clinton or Donald Trump," he said.