The Jury Talks Back

5/19/2019

Rep. Justin Amash: First Congressional Republican To Claim President Trump “Engaged In Impeachable Conduct”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 11:35 am

[guest post by Dana]

After reading Mueller’s redacted report in its entirety, Michigan Republican Representative Justin Amash publicly shared his reaction yesterday. Ultimately, he believes President Trump did indeed “engage in impeachable conduct”. His conclusion is entirely at odds with the “No Collusion! No Obstruction!” party line lead by the President.

I’m going to post Rep. Amash’s full comments rather than summing them up. One general point he makes that stands out to me is the danger of allowing party loyalty (and loyalty to a president) to supersede loyalty to the Constitution. I’ve been harping about this forever: Loyalty to one’s party (and the President) is a faulty starting point for being able to accurately and objectively assess our elected officials and hold them accountable. It’s worth noting that Rep. Amash is being entirely consistent in his stated beliefs about the role of an elected official:

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From Rep. Amash:

Here are my principal conclusions:
1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report.
2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.
3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances.
4. Few members of Congress have read the report.

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.

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.

Barr’s misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies, which he hopes people will not notice.

Under our Constitution, the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined, the context implies conduct that violates the public trust.

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.

In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.

Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct.

While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.

Our system of checks and balances relies on each branch’s jealously guarding its powers and upholding its duties under our Constitution. When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law—the foundation of liberty—crumbles.

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.

Few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report; their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation—and it showed, with representatives and senators from both parties issuing definitive statements on the 448-page report’s conclusions within just hours of its release.

America’s institutions depend on officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system even when to do so is personally inconvenient or yields a politically unfavorable outcome. Our Constitution is brilliant and awesome; it deserves a government to match it.

President Trump, unsurprisingly, came out swinging:

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It’s too soon to say whether any other Republican lawmakers will come out in agreement with Rep. Amash. As of this posting, I could only find one Republican lawmaker who has commented on Rep. Amash’s statement. This was Sen. Mitt Romney to Jake Tapper this morning:

My own view is that Justin Amash has reached a different conclusion than I have. I respect him, I think it’s a courageous statement.

The American people just aren’t there. The Senate is certainly not there, either.

[…]

I also believe that an impeachment call is not only something that relates to the law but also considers practicality and politics, and the American people just aren’t there…

And from RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, a jab at Rep. Amash, who has said that he “can’t rule out” running for president as a Libertarian.”:

It’s sad to see Congressman Amash parroting the Democrats’ talking points on Russia. The only people still fixated on the Russia collusion hoax are political foes of President Trump hoping to defeat him in 2020 by any desperate means possible. Voters in Amash’s district strongly support this President, and would rather their Congressman work to support the President’s policies that have brought jobs, increased wages and made life better for Americans.

–Dana

7 Comments »

  1. Would have been more impactful if he explained what the President did that in his and his staff’s opinions met the threshold for obstruction.

    Comment by Sean — 5/19/2019 @ 11:41 am

  2. Furthermore, I find his argument concerning Barr’s logical fallacies rather ironic given his attempts to argue from authority and appeal to ignorance. If you want to make the case that Trump should be impeached then show cause, don’t just point to the report and say “it’s in there because I read it.” Because a lot of other people read the same thing and reached a number of different conclusions. Make substantive points please.

    Comment by Sean — 5/19/2019 @ 11:47 am

  3. I don’t agree with Amash, but as some of his points have been rehashed here before, I’ll limit myself to his point #4: few members of congress have read the report.

    I find it troublingly plausible. Having now read the thing myself, though, I have noticed that it leaps to unsubstantiated conclusions in a couple of places, which makes me question the veracity of the remainder. To name just one example, the report takes the position, as if fact, that Wikileaks was in knowing cooperation with the Russians, and presents a couple of intercepts that can be read as indicating that. It then hand-waves the while thing away by saying “clearly” wikileaks was doing this. Wording and methodology of that sort has no place whatsoever in an investigative report. That’s simply bad practice.

    A further matter is that, in Trump’s bombastic tweets about Amish, there’s a part that resonates pretty darn well with me and a lot of people; how do you obstruct if there is no crime? I know that’s not legally true, but to most people, it sounds good, and IMHO should be the case; if there’s no underlying crime, no obstruction, because one can’t very well stand in the way of *justice* when there wasn’t a crime in the first place. (it is, after all, called obstruction of justice, not obstruction of investigation). After all, if there is no crime, what is actual Justice for it? Nothing, save for ending the investigation.

    Personally, I don’t think Trump did manage, quite, to break the laws on obstruction. But, even if hypothetically he did, it’s sounding a heck of a lot like the Scooter Libby case, where the FBI went after him to create a perjury trap while knowing full well that, A, what they were investigating wasn’t a crime, and B, Libby had nothing to do with it anyway.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 5/19/2019 @ 12:06 pm

  4. @ Sean;
    IMHO, there is a reason Amish didn’t give specifics; were he to do so, it would appear very thin, because it actually is very thin, plus more than a little preposterous (due to there being no underlying crime, therefor no justice to obstruct).

    It seems to me that what Justin Amish is doing has a name: Ipse Dixit.

    I’m thinking more and more that this is a self-serving political move of some sort. My guess is the RNC is right, Amish may run as a libertarian as a spoiler.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 5/19/2019 @ 12:15 pm

  5. @Arizona CJ, most certainly it’s Ipse Dixit, and he should know better. If this was a single tweet I might be more forgiving and pairing with an expected follow up, but since he went on a rant without giving specifics I tend to agree with you that this plays more like a political stunt than a principled stand.

    Comment by Sean — 5/19/2019 @ 12:42 pm

  6. Patient not pairing… darn autocorrect

    Comment by Sean — 5/19/2019 @ 12:43 pm

  7. I’m confused on the McGhan issue;
    The claim is that Trump told the white house lawyer to fire Mueller.

    If we assume that’s true, my question is, is it even possible for a white house lawyer to fire a special council (or, for that matter, anyone)?

    And, if it’s not possible, is it obstruction to ask someone to do something they cannot possibly do?

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 5/20/2019 @ 2:46 pm

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