Justin Amash

Justin Amash Joins Democrat's Push for Independent Investigation into Trump Campaign's Russia Ties

The libertarian legislator says Trump's letter to Comey was "bizarre."


Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

Rep. Justin Amash, a libertarian-leaning Republican member of Congress, tweeted today that he will support legislation to establish a nonpartisan, independent commission charged with investigating potential Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat. Amash is the second Republican to sign on, after Rep. Walter Jones, according to BuzzFeed News.

"Happy to join my friend @RepWalterJones as another Republican cosponsor of @RepSwalwell's bill," wrote Amash on Twitter. "This investigation must be nonpartisan."

Just two days ago, Amash expressed concerns about President Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. He wrote that the second paragraph of Trump's letter to Comey—which referenced Comey allegedly telling Trump that he was not under investigation—was "bizarre."

Trump initially claimed that he reached the decision to fire Comey after Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended such a course of action. But, in an interview on Thursday, Trump revised that claim.

"Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey," said Trump, according to The New York Times. Trump also called Comey "a showboat" and a "grandstander." (Comey should have responded, I know you are, but what am I?)

We know that mere days ago, Comey asked the Justice Department for more resources in order to continue his investigation into potential ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. We don't know whether the firing of Comey amounts to a cover-up because we don't know if there's anything worth covering up. But even if the grand Russian conspiracy theory turns out to be nothing more than an MSNBC fever dream, Trump certainly made himself look bad here. It's inappropriate for the potential subject of an FBI inquiry to fire the person in charge of that inquiry, regardless.

That said, when it comes to Trump, the most simplistic explanation is often the best one. Trump does not operate according to normal political constraints—he does whatever he wants, because his base and most Republican leaders are prepared to let him get away with it. Comey was once an asset, so Trump praised him. Now Comey is a hindrance, so he decided to cast the man loose. If Trump wants to change the subject in the middle of an interview, he will do it. If he wants to claim he invented the phrase "prime the pump," why not? If he wants to spend his time tweeting at Rosie O'Donnell, that's how he is going to spend his time.

In any case, kudos to Amash for joining the effort to resolve the outstanding Russia questions in the only way that makes any sense: an independent investigation.