Amash exits Freedom Caucus after impeachment rift

Justin Amash | Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Twp.) has resigned from the U.S. House Freedom Caucus, a powerful conservative group he helped start, after his calls to impeach President Trump sparked a backlash from his GOP colleagues.

The West Michigan congressman stepped down from the Freedom Caucus and its board on Monday night, he told CNN. “I have the highest regard for them, and they’re my close friends,” Amash said. “I didn’t want to be a further distraction for the group.”

Amash’s spokeswoman, Poppy Nelson, confirmed Amash’s resignation to the Michigan Advance.

Amash: Trump has ‘engaged in impeachable conduct’

The congressman’s Freedom Caucus allies were furious after Amash proclaimed last month on Twitter that Trump had “engaged in impeachable conduct,” making him the only Republican member of Congress to call for the president’s ouster.

“I think he’s wrong. I just think Justin’s wrong on this,” U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), another founding member of the Freedom Caucus, told the Advance last month. “We had a board meeting and every single member of the House Freedom Caucus board felt he was wrong.”

The anti-establishment Freedom Caucus, founded by Amash and other conservatives in 2015, spent four years trying to push the Republican House majority to the right.

Amash goes to war with GOP

But their influence and their mission have changed dramatically since Democrats took control of the chamber in January. They’ve joined forces with the current GOP leadership to try to win back control of the House in 2020, and some of their leaders — including Chair Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) — have been among Trump’s most ardent defenders.

Amash’s breakup with the group appears to have been in the works for a while.

Amash said in March that he was only attending meetings “infrequently,” and expressed frustration that he was alone in criticizing the president. “They’ve decided to stick with the president time and again, even where they disagree with him privately,” he said of his colleagues.

He’s widely rumored to be considering a primary run against Trump in 2020, a prospect that Amash hasn’t publicly ruled out.

Advance reporter Nick Manes contributed to this story.

Robin Bravender
Michigan native Robin Bravender is the DC Bureau Chief for the Newsroom, a consortium of 10 nonprofit news publications, including the Michigan Advance. Previously, Robin was a reporter for Politico, E&E News and Thomson Reuters.

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