Justin Amash is leaving the GOP, and President Trump is happy to see him go. After the conservative Michigan congressman—the only member of his party to have supported the idea of impeaching Trump—made his big announcement Thursday, the president responded on Twitter. "Great news for the Republican Party as one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress is 'quitting' the Party," Trump wrote. "No Collusion, No Obstruction! Knew he couldn’t get the nomination to run again in the Great State of Michigan. Already being challenged for his seat. A total loser!" Amash isn't joining the Democrats—he thinks both parties are ruining America. Instead, he's going independent. Coverage:
- 3 questions: The surprise announcement leaves three big questions to be answered, per the Detroit News: Will Amash run for re-election to Congress in 2020 as an independent? Will he run for president instead? And in the meantime, will he continue to caucus with Republicans?
- About Amash: The 39-year-old came to Congress as part of the Tea Party movement in 2010 and is seen as one of the most libertarian members of Congress, per NPR in a profile. Both his parents are immigrants. "Justin just always had a keen sense of what was at stake in terms of what governments do or don't do, how much they interfere, how much they limit themselves," says a friend who's known him since high school.
- Re-election: Even before his announcement, Amash's re-election to Congress in 2020 was no sure thing. Thanks to his break with Trump, Republican challengers have lined up in the primary, making an Amash victory "tough, if not impossible," writes David Nather at Axios. "This way, the libertarian-leaning Amash can try to keep his seat as an independent or go out on his own terms." A post at Twitchy thinks this sets up a three-way race in November, with grocery chain heir Peter Meijer as the Republican candidate against Amash and a Democrat to be named later.
- White House run? Aaron Blake of the Washington Post observes that Amash's op-ed sounds like it was written by a man running for the White House. "He has left open the possibility of running for president as the nominee of the Libertarian Party, which would undoubtedly be glad to have him." Blake runs through the pros and cons for Amash about this potential move, including the possibility of ending up as a Ralph Nader-like spoiler.
- Critic's take: At RedState, a post by streiff speculates that "Amash has fallen in love with his own press releases. Because he gets praise from the left whenever he does something bizarre and untoward, like supporting impeachment, he thinks he is reaching across the aisle and finding common ground." The post floats a theory that Amash, knowing he was going to lose the GOP primary, figures the only way he can keep his seat is to run as an independent and get the GOP to back him over the GOP candidate.
- Amash's take: Earlier this week, Amash gave an interview to Vox and asserted that the Tea Party movement that got him elected is all but dead. "It’s been disheartening because the first few years while I was in Congress, I did feel like we were making progress in shifting the dialogue toward limited government and economic freedom and individual liberty," he says. "And over the past few years, it has gone in the other direction." He doesn't blame Trump for the shift; rather, he says Trump is the "culmination" of the shift.
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