Justin Amash: Some of my Republican colleagues tell me they agree that Trump obstructed justice

A noteworthy tidbit from yesterday’s town hall in his home district, where he received a standing ovation for his “courage” from some attendees. Until Tuesday afternoon it was unclear if Amash was done criticizing Trump over Russiagate, having been rebuked by his friends in the Freedom Caucus once already because of it. Yesterday’s tweetstorm followed by this performance at the town hall answered that question. The fact that he made a point of noting that he’s not the only Republican in the House who believes Trump obstructed justice is noteworthy in context. I’m not the only “disloyal” member of Trump’s party, Amash is saying, just the only one with the stones to cop to it.

He was pretty jazzed after this morning’s Mueller statement too.

“It doesn’t matter to me that some people won’t support me. You have to do the right thing regardless,” he said to one of his critics at the town hall. He must sincerely believe that because an impeachment vote in the House would be a political disaster for him. It’s one thing to criticize Trump ineffectually, it’s another to formally side with Pelosi on a gut-check vote to have Trump removed from office. That’ll turbo-charge the primary challenge he’s facing, although Amash may have reached the point where retirement doesn’t sound like a bad idea. His party’s lost the majority, he’s personally lost the support of the “small government” wing of the caucus, and the sitting Republican president palpably doesn’t care about Amash’s policy priorities. There’s no hint either that the GOP is moving away from Trump-style nationalism towards Amash-style libertarianism, giving Amash a reason to stick around in Congress. Just the opposite, really.

I think he’s in legacy mode at the tender age of 39. Which, actually, may be less nutty than it seems: When you’re inclined politically the way Amash is, your best bet to have real influence over government may be to make a bold mark when you’re young and out of favor and hope that the electorate eventually catches up to you. If the post-Trump GOP were to reorient towards smaller government a decade or two from now, as unlikely as that may seem, Amash may come to be viewed by Republicans in hindsight as a man whose adherence to principle amid a rising tide of Trumpism is something to be admired and rewarded.

Although I wouldn’t bet on it. Imagine how dramatically the GOP would need to change for voters to eventually see an impeachment vote cast against a Republican president as a virtue. Not just the party but the whole culture of negative hyperpartisanship would need to change to make Amash viable again.

Here’s video of the standing O he received at one point. Some anti-Trumpers like Charlie Sykes and George Conway are touting the favorable reaction Amash received as evidence that there’s more of a market for principled leadership within the GOP than Trump and his sycophants would have you believe. Eh. Beware of small sample sizes, I say. There were MAGA fans at this same town hall who told Amash flat out that they’d no longer support him in light of his Trump criticism. There’s no telling how many members of the crowd cheering him on were Republicans or even constituents from his district rather than ardent Resistance types who have no intention of voting for him next year. He’s already facing multiple primary challengers and is likely to have Trump himself egging voters in his district on to oust him. I wouldn’t bet on “principle” mattering in any Republican election for the foreseeable future.