Amash defends impeachment stance at town hall

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, the first and so far only Republican to call President Donald Trump’s actions amid the Russia investigation “impeachable,” held a town hall meeting in Grand Rapids Tuesday to explain his opinion.

Amash started the event by joking, “Have you read any interesting tweets lately?”

Earlier this month, the metro Grand Rapids representative used a series of tweets to outline his conclusions from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report about Russian meddling, saying Trump “has engaged in impeachable conduct” and that U.S. Attorney General William Barr “deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report.” Despite intense criticism, Amash has defended that stance.

He opened the Tuesday meeting by talking about the Mueller report and explaining why he reached his conclusion. He said anyone who read the section on obstruction of justice would see that his opinion is based on the Constitution rather than his affiliation with the Republican party.

“We owe it to the American people to represent them, to ensure that the people we have in office are doing the right thing, are of good character, aren’t violating the public trust. And that’s why I took the position I did and I would do it whether it was a Democratic president or Republican president. It doesn’t matter to me,” he said to applause.

Amash said he read all of Mueller’s more than 400-page report before expressing his thoughts. He said lawmakers who weighed in right away could not have read it fully.

The line to get into the packed meeting at Grand Rapids Christian High School stretched at least 100 yards around the corner from the door and into the parking lot.

Many people seemed to agree with Amash on impeachment, but others who identified themselves as Republicans weren’t happy.

“I can’t even tell you how disappointed I am,” said Diane Luke of Grand Rapids, who wore a red Make American Great Again hat and whose statements fueled restlessness from the crowd.

Luke asked Amash when he had become a Democrat, to which he replied that he hasn’t changed since he was first elected.

“I’m who I said I was. I’m the principled constitutional conservative who has stayed consistent regardless of whether we have President Obama in office or President Trump,” he said.

He wanted to know what facts Luke was disputing in his conclusion.

Some people argued that Trump didn’t obstruct justice because there was no underlying crime — which Attorney General Barr put forth during questioning by senators early this month — but Amash said the public wouldn’t know if there was a crime if there was obstruction. He said the report shows there was.

Another constituent, Anna Timmer, previously worked for Amash’s campaign but said she now feels betrayed because he isn’t supporting the Republican president or representing the people who put him in office.

“You spent the last two years failing to do your job, which is to directly represent the popular vote of your constituents,” she said during the meeting.

“That’s not my job,” Amash replied.

“I double-checked online before I put it in my notes, so that is your job,” an angry Timmer replied.

“My job is to uphold the Constitution,” Amash rebutted.

“No,” Timmer said loudly. “Those are not mutually exclusive. Do you realize that those are not mutually exclusive?”

“They can be,” Amash said.

>>App users: Watch the town hall meeting

After the meeting, Timmer told 24 Hour News 8 she has not read the Mueller report because she doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of his investigation. Asked if Trump should be held accountable if there was obstruction of justice, as Amash claims, she refused to answer.

Timmer said Amash’s days are numbered, calling his stance a political stunt meant to increase his political power, sell a book or get a job with CNN.

Amash, now in his fifth term, faces two primary challengers, one of whom moved up his campaign announcement after the impeachment comments. Amash has said those challengers are “not serious.” They disagree.

Last week, spokesman Nick Wasmiller confirmed the DeVos family pulled their support for Amash. He said the family’s decision was based on concerns about a “lack of representation” and made “after a period of months.”  

Wasmiller said the decision did not involve Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who resigned from her position with family business when she joined Trump’s Cabinet.

—24 Hour News 8’s Marvis Herring contributed to this report.

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