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Rep. Justin Amash Slams Trump/Putin Press Conference: POTUS Spoke 'Like the Head of a Vassal State'

In a series of tweets, the libertarian-leaning Republican detailed why Trump's joint press conference with Vladimir Putin was all wrong.

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KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS/Newscom

Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.) offered a detailed criticism on Twitter yesterday of U.S. President Donald Trump's recent joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among other observations, Amash argued that Trump "went out of his way to appear subordinate" and "spoke more like the head of a vassal state."

Amash's Twitter thread came two days after Trump told the world he accepted Putin's claim that the Russian government did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Widespread criticism ensued from across the political spectrum, leading Trump to claim Tuesday that he misspoke and believed Russia did interfere in the election.

Amash indicated he has no problem with U.S. presidents meeting with leaders of countries like Russia, North Kora, and Cuba. "Peace and prosperity can't be secured without communication and engagement," he wrote, adding that one of the "most of appealing qualities" of libertarianism is "the desire to seek friendship and peace whenever possible."

But while "diplomacy and dialogue are good," Amash wrote, it's a "logical fallacy" to say that Trump's performance at the press conference was good as well. Oppposing what Trump said doesn't make a person "pro-war or anti-Trump," Amash added. "No, some of us are just concerned about the bizarre behavior of our president at a press conference."

The libertarian-leaning Republican went on to argue that the press conference did not accomplish its goal of "bringing America and Russia closer." Instead, it left Amash thinking "something is not right here." That's because Trump's performance made him "appear subordinate" to Putin, Amash said.

Amash said he wasn't sure what prompted Trump's embarrassing performance. But regardless, "the press conference was counterproductive to the goal of improving relations," he wrote. And though Trump later walked back on his remarks, Amash couldn't help but wonder why he didn't do so quicker if what he said was "simply a misstatement."

Next, Amash explained why it's perfectly fine for libertarians to take issue with Trump's remarks. "To suggest that anyone critical of the president's conduct opposes diplomacy is to employ a strawman argument. It's virtue signaling, not libertarianism," he said. Then, he noted that opposing how Trump is dealing with Putin does not make one "a Deep State anti-Trump neocon warmonger, etc."

Amash also criticized the tendency among some libertarians to defend Trump for the sake of "owning the neocons," adding that it's harmful to the libertarian movement when people connect libertarian principles to the "failings" of Trump. "When a libertarian's political prime directive becomes 'owning the neocons' (or 'owning the libs') rather than advancing libertarian ideals, then that person undermines libertarianism as a philosophy," he said.

The Michigan representative may have been taking a shot at Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.), a fellow libertarian-leaning Republican who was one of the few politicians to defend Trump in the aftermath of his meeting and press conference with Putin.

Amash also pointed out other negative effects of Trump's press conference. Not only did it "further isolate our country from Russia," he said, but it's led many people to "rally around" the FBI, despite the agency's "dubious track record and unconstitutional activities, particularly with respect to the #4thAmendment." The press conference will also likely lead to "more ineffectual sanctions bills and resolutions of condemnation against Russia," Amash added, "which will serve primarily to stunt further efforts at diplomacy and dialogue."

Amash concluded by calling on libertarians to be "smarter and more effective in our approach." Instead of "Acting like partisans," libertarians should "Stand strong on your principles; you'll find most Americans standing with you."