The Slatest

Republican Trump Critic Justin Amash Leaves the GOP

Rep. Justin Amash holds a microphone and gestures.
Rep. Justin Amash holds a town hall meeting on May 28 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash published an editorial in the Washington Post on Thursday announcing that he would be leaving the Republican Party to become an independent.

In the editorial, Amash decries the “hyperpartisan environment” in Congress and the country at large. “I’ve become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it,” he writes. “The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.”

The congressman specifically alleges that government officials have put loyalty to their parties above constitutional principles like rule of law and separation of powers. He notes that lawmakers are no longer an effective check on the executive branch and largely vote based on directives from party leaders. This partisanship in Congress, Amash argues, radiates outward to public discourse, which has become dominated by the most extreme voices. “With little genuine debate on policy happening in Congress, party leaders distract and divide the public by exploiting wedge issues and waging pointless messaging wars,” he laments.

Amash closes out the piece by imploring readers to reject “the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us.” He asserts that most Americans do not feel well represented by either the Republican or Democratic parties and are becoming less engaged in politics as a result.

Amash was first elected to Congress in 2010 as part of the tea party movement and has been at odds with Republicans over health care and spending. In May, he sent out a Twitter thread contending that Trump had engaged in “impeachable conduct” based on the findings of the Mueller report. Amash is still the only sitting Republican who has called for impeachment. In June, he left the House Freedom Caucus, which he himself helped to found with other tea party lawmakers. There has been speculation that Amash could run against Trump as an independent or Libertarian candidate.

As Politico’s Jake Sherman noted, Amash’s departure likely means that he will lose his position on the House Oversight Committee and will have to resign from the House Republican Conference. The National Republican Congressional Committee is also likely to back another candidate to challenge Amash for his seat in 2020.

A few hours after the Post released Amash’s editorial, Trump took to Twitter to call the congressman “a total loser.”