Amash skips many Freedom Caucus meetings, again flirts with presidential run

    Justin Amash | Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Twp.) helped found the Freedom Caucus, but he told CNN this weekend that he now attends meetings “infrequently.” He again said that he’s thought about running for president.

    “From the time the president [Donald Trump] was elected, I was urging them to remain independent and to be willing to push back against the president where they thought he was wrong,” Amash said of the Freedom Caucus. “They’ve decided to stick with the president time and again, even where they disagree with him privately.”

    The caucus was founded at the zenith of the Tea Party, a moment in which Amash’s politics thrived. He was a frequent critic of former President Barack Obama for what he believed was presidential overreach with issues like Obamacare. At that time, Amash found himself well within the majority of his party. But now that Trump is president, Amash’s standing has changed.

    CNN described Amash’s current relationship with many members of the caucus:

    His firm libertarian stances on foreign policy, surveillance and federal spending put him in an awkward position with many in his own party. And two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, Amash appears lonelier than ever.

    His closest allies — conservatives who routinely sparred with the GOP establishment in the past — have coalesced behind Trump even as his political and legal woes have mounted, with Republican lawmakers now marching in lock-step behind the President even on issues they historically haven’t supported, like shutting down the government. But that’s not Amash’s style.

    Amash was the only Republican to sponsor legislation opposing Trump’s emergency declaration for his border wall, which passed the U.S. House last month. He also told the Advance in an earlier interview that it would be a “huge mistake” for the president to do so.

    Amash opposed Trump’s travel ban in 2017. The story notes Amash’s mother is a Syrian immigrant and his father came to America as a Palestinian refugee in 1956. Amash was late to a Freedom Caucus meeting once and reportedly said:

    “Hey guys. Sorry I’m late. The travel ban got me held up at the airport — they’re screening all the Syrians.”

    CNN reports that “half of the room was amused by the quip. The other half — not so much.”

    Amash still has his GOP defenders, like Arizona U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, who said Amash offers constructive ideas.

    Last week, Amash told CNN’s Jake Tapper on his “State of the Union” talk show that when it comes to running for president in 2020, he “never [rules] anything out” and a different perspective is needed. He reiterated those ideas this weekend:

    “I never stop thinking about these sorts of things,” he told CNN. “It’s not because I have any immediate plans or anything like that, but I never stop thinking about those things because there is a big problem with the current two-party system we have, and someone has to shake it up.”

    “Now, is it possible for anyone to shake it up and make a difference?” he added. “I don’t know.”


    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.


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