Rep. Justin Amash, just days after he announced his departure from the Republican Party, said Sunday he would have left even if Donald Trump weren’t the president but insisted that this term in Congress was what “really broke it for me.”
“Over the years, I’ve seen that people are just falling in line behind the leaders, including people in my own caucus, which I left,” the five-term Michigan lawmaker told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “So it has gotten worse and worse and I think this was the term that really broke it for me.”
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Amash said he has been bothered by the way Trump expects Republicans to be first and foremost loyal to him, not the party itself.
“I think he’s really identified what I talked about in my op-ed, which is, he thinks that people owe loyalty to him,” Amash said. “But people are elected to Congress with an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not an oath to support and defend one person, the president, who happens to be from your own party.”
Amash was the first and only national Republican to call for Trump’s impeachment after the release of the redacted Mueller report. On Fourth of July, before Trump’s rally in Washington, Amash announced he was declaring his own independence in an op-ed published in The Washington Post, in which he called for others to follow him in departing the party.
The newly minted independent from Michigan said he has had concerns with the Republican Party for several years and thought he “could change things from the inside” as a congressman.
“I don’t think a lot of the partisan discord and the rest started with President Trump,” he said. “It has been going on for years and gotten worse in recent years, but he’s helping to fuel it and making it worse and making it more difficult for people to be independent in Congress.”
Rep. Will Hurd told Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” that it’s “unfortunate that Justin [Amash] believes that the party is not big enough for his position and his ideas.”
“I think the Republican Party should be a broad party,” he added.
Amash told Tapper he is getting support from other Republicans, though they are not being vocal about it.
“I get people sending me text messages, people calling me, saying, ‘Thank you for what you’re doing, great op-ed,'” he said. “When I was discussing impeachment, I had fellow colleagues and other Republicans, high-level officials, contacting me, saying, ‘Thank you for what you’re doing.’
“So there are lots of Republicans out there who are saying these things privately,” he said. “But they’re not saying it publicly.”