Amash again torches Trump on emergency powers, flirts with 2020 run

    Amash and Trump
    Justin Amash (left) and Donald Trump (right)

    U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Twp.) continues to blast President Donald Trump over his emergency declaration, while also saying he won’t rule out challenging him in 2020 because of it.

    Speaking with CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday morning, Amash — who has been critical of Trump declaring a federal emergency to bypass Congress and obtain funding for a southern border wall — said that a viable third-party candidate is necessary.

    After being asked whether he was considering a run for president, Amash, who identifies as a Libertarian, said, “Well, I never rule anything out. That’s not on my radar right now.

    “But I think that it is important that we have someone in there who’s presenting a vision for America that is different from what these two parties are presenting right now,” he continued. “We have a wild amount of partisan rhetoric on both sides. And Congress is totally broken.”

    Amash has previously said that the 2020 Libertarian candidate has to be “very libertarian” and not a “squishy” Republican.

    Tapper said that Amash’s language “sounds like a platform” for a presidential bid.

    Amash has made news in recent weeks for being the only congressional Republican to co-sponsor a resolution rebuking Trump over the declaration, which the congressman views as executive overreach. He told Tapper that he believes many of his Republican colleagues are abdicating their power of checks and balances on the executive branch, but not necessarily on purpose.

    “The president doesn’t get to decide that he can override Congress simply because Congress doesn’t do what he wants,” Amash said. “I know that there are a lot of people in the country who agree with the president. And that’s why we have Congress, so we can debate these issues.”

    Amash was one of just 13 Republicans to vote last week in favor of the resolution, along with U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph). The measure is now in the U.S. Senate, where it’s expected to narrowly pass, thanks to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announcing he’ll vote for it.

    However, Trump is expected to veto the resolution, meaning he will be able to use military funds to build his long-promised wall, unless the courts say otherwise. Michigan is one of 16 states suing the president over his declaration.

    Construction continues on a new section of barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border on Jan. 8, 2019 as seen from Tijuana, Mexico. | Mario Tama, Getty Images

    The congressman also made news last week over his questioning of Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, who testified last week for several hours before the U.S. House Oversight Committee, of which Amash is a member.

    Cohen, who is set to spend three years in federal prison, testified that he had previously lied to the committee in a past round of questioning as a means of protecting the president. This time around, he called Trump a “racist,” a “cheat” and a “conman,” offering specific examples of each.

    Republicans on the committee largely used their time to try and discredit Cohen, which included hanging a sign in the committee room that read, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

    Amash, however, took a different track, telling Cohen that he wasn’t sure whether to believe him or not, but asked the former Trump employee, “What is the truth you know President Trump fears the most?”

    Michael Cohen (C), President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney | Yana Paskova, Getty Images

    While Cohen said he was unable to answer that “tough question,” Amash was deemed the only Republican to ask him a “real question.”

    Asked about his question by Tapper on Sunday, Amash said that he believed Cohen should have the opportunity to provide answers rather than just “yelling at him” or “trying to grandstand,” which he indicated many of his colleagues had done.

    “I think the purpose of an oversight hearing is to gather information for investigative purposes, and that’s what I was trying to do,” Amash said.

    Nick Manes
    Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.


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