Justin Amash

11 Other Times Justin Amash Crossed Swords With President Trump

While the libertarian congressman sheds supporters over impeachment controversy, a trip through the last 30 months shows a history of conflict.


Saturday's assertion from the libertarian Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.) that President Donald Trump has engaged in "impeachable conduct" continues to generate praise, blowback, and other reactions (including here).

The latest news is that the DeVos family, Amash's single most important backer in his district, is no longer supporting him, though family spokesperson Nick Wasmiller tells Michigan Live that the decision pre-dates the recent controversy. And president David McIntosh of the longtime-Amash-supporting Club for Growth tells The Daily Beast that the congressman is "absolutely wrong on the standard for impeachment," though no decision on 2020 financing has yet been made.

The national press, meanwhile, is trying to assess this strange political creature. "Impeachment Appeal Pushes Justin Amash From G.O.P. Gadfly to Insurgent," goes yesterday's incoherent headline in The New York Times. (I would think that defenestrating House Speaker John Boehner, unlike supporting a theoretical impeachment process that doesn't yet exist, demonstrates a bit more impact than a fly biting livestock.)

"He has never really been much of a party loyalist anyway," the Times acknowledged, but even that phrasing is inadequate to the task of describing the iconoclastic apostasies of the Ron Paul/F.A. Hayek-inspired congressman.

Reason is no stranger to this Republican outlier, having conducted Q&As with him in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 (three times), 2018, and 2019. As such, we've had a front-row seat for his clashes with a populist president. The following archive-scrape is an incomplete list of Amash-Trump conflicts in chronological order since Inauguration Day.

1) January 2017: The travel ban.

On the eighth day of his presidency, Donald Trump abruptly followed through on a campaign threat to ban entry into the United States by residents of seven majority-Muslim countries, including (at first) legal permanent U.S. residents. The executive order was quickly blocked by the courts, then revised by the administration, then blocked again, then partly revised again, then again, then blocked a third time, before finally being allowed to stand in such altered form by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Before any of that, there was Justin Amash, with a nine-part Twitter thread.

2) March 2017: Obamacare repeal/replace 1.0.

On March 24, 2017, then-House Speaker Paul Ryan withdrew from consideration the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the new president's first real effort at legislative dealmaking, because it didn't have enough Republican support. The biggest skeptics within the GOP were members of the House Freedom Caucus, which Amash co-founded in 2015. The Caucus maintained, with ample justification, that the bill was a hot mess that would codify some of Obamacare's worst aspects while also precipitating a meltdown in the individual insurance market.

Trump responded with fury, accusing the Freedom Caucus two days later of saving Obamacare and Planned Parenthood. On March 30, the president thundered that "The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!" To which the congressman got cheeky:

Trump social media director Dan Scavino then tweeted "@realDonaldTrump is bringing auto plants & jobs back to Michigan. @justinamash is a big liability.#TrumpTrain, defeat him in primary," which Amash laughed at. (Scavino's tweet was later found to be in violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in campaign activity while acting in their official capacity.)

Trump's long-game attempt to bring the Freedom Caucus to heel, however, unequivocally worked: Chair Mark Meadows (R–N.C.) and Vice Chair Jim Jordan (R–Ohio) became the president's two most visible congressional attack dogs from the earliest days of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. When the new version of the AHCA came back around, Freedom Caucus members—including Amash—held their noses and voted for it, in large part (I suspect) because they knew that it would not pass the Senate. And as of this Monday night, the Caucus no longer seems like a welcome place for the man long considered to be its intellectual architect.

3) May 2017: The firing of James Comey.

When President Trump sacked his FBI director over the Department of Justice's Russia-related investigation, the first Capitol Hill Republicans to object were two people who otherwise couldn't have less in common: Sen. John McCain, and Amash.

Two days later Amash joined his friend, the late Rep. Walter Jones (R–N.C.), in co-sponsoring a bill by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D–Calif.) to establish an independent commission to investigate Trump's actions. Five days after that, when The New York Times reported that Trump had asked Comey to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, Amash said the story, if true, could be grounds for impeachment.

The Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel the next day. "Well, I'm—you know, look, I guess I'll keep an open mind," was the reaction of Jim Jordan, who proceeded to do the opposite.

4) September 2017: Spendingpalooza 1.0.

In the last month of fiscal year 2017, as the national debt was zooming north of the $20 trillion threshold, the president signed into law billions of dollars of non-offset hurricane relief, plus a deal to raise the debt ceiling to $20.14 trillion.

Voting against all that stuff was Amash, who told me in an interview, "It's looking as bad as any time I've seen since I've been in Congress….I think this tends to happen when one party has full control of government: that party starts to go on a spending spree and stops worrying about the debt and deficits."

This theme would come up again in March 2018, September 2018, December 2018…you get the idea.

4) June 2018: Kicking Mark Sanford.

On June 12, 2018, hours before polls closed, Trump weighed in to support the primary challenger to Rep. Mark Sanford (R–S.C.), a persistent and loud Freedom Caucus critic of the president:

Arrington, whose main campaign theme was that Sanford was too disloyal to Trump, beat the incumbent by four percentage points.

One week later, in a meeting with House Republicans, Trump reportedly asked whether Sanford was in the room, and when the answer was no, called him a "nasty guy." Countering reports that the members were nonplussed, the president then tweeted "They applauded and laughed loudly when I mentioned my experience with Mark Sanford. I have never been a fan of his!"

Sanford's pal Amash did not concur. "House Republicans had front row seats to @POTUS's dazzling display of pettiness and insecurity," he tweeted. "Nobody applauded or laughed. People were disgusted."

5) March 2018: The trade war.

On March 1, Trump sent the stock market reeling with his announcement that he'd be imposing steel and aluminum tariffs within the week. Amash criticized the move hours later.

The congressman has been criticizing the president (and the pliant Congress) on trade ever since.

6) July 2018: The Helsinki summit.

On July 16, 2018, Trump held a bizarre joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the two leaders met for a summit in Helsinki. Among other oddities, the American president took at face value his counterpart's insistence that Russia did not attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election (a claim that Trump walked back soon after).

While libertarian-leaners such as Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) defended the president, Amash addressed yet another Twitter thread specifically to libertarians, arguing "We must not, however, fall for the logical fallacy that because diplomacy and dialogue are good, @POTUS's performance at the press conference was good."

Amash added, in what appeared to me as a veiled swipe at his friend Rand Paul, "The general public are not more likely to see themselves as libertarian when, for the sake of 'owning the [neocons],' prominent figures associated with libertarianism conflate libertarian-style governance and Trump-style governance."

7) October 2018: Birthright citizenship.

In an interview with Axios on HBO, the president suggested that he might follow through on another foul campaign promise by issuing an executive order to end the automatic citizenship that's conferred to the children of all non-foreign-diplomats born on U.S. soil.

"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," the president maintained, waving a dismissive hand toward the prevailing interpretation of the 14th Amendment. "You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order."

The congressman had a different read.

To date, Trump has not followed through on his threat.

8) November 2018: Khashoggi comments.

"The world is a very dangerous place!"

So began one of the single weirdest presidential statements ever to be released on purpose at WhiteHouse.gov—a rambling, slogan-filled attempt to contextualize the president's unwillingness to blame Saudi Arabia for murdering a critic of its ruling family who was chopped to bits at the Saudi embassy in Turkey, by reminding people that Iran is bad and the Saudis buy a lot of American stuff. "It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn't!" was one of the sentences.

This time, Rand Paul and Justin Amash were on the same page:

9) December 2018: Tariff Man vs. Liberty Man.

"I am a Tariff Man," the president tweeted on Dec. 4, 2018, because why not? "When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN."

While the Internet (with the exception of day-traders) mostly giggled, Amash also mixed in some policy with the laughs:

10) January 2019: "Military version of eminent domain."

Back in the heyday of the Tea Party, the government would usually get shut down over spending increases, Obamacare, things like that. In January of this year, President Trump engineered a long shutdown over funding to extend a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. During this process, the president threatened to use what he called the "military version of eminent domain" to seize private property on the American side of the border.

Amash does not oppose extending the wall. But he does have some thoughts about private property and government takings, which made their way into a bill "requiring that a property's fair value be finalized before [the Department of Homeland Security] takes ownership."

The Eminent Domain Just Compensation Act has not yet been considered on the committee level and is estimated to have just a 3 percent chance of passage.

11) February 2019: Emergency declaration.

President Trump on Feb. 15 declared a national emergency along the border, to free up funds for the border wall extension. The House of Representatives 10 days later voted 245-182 to block the order. The resolution's only Republican co-sponsor? Justin Amash.

"The president doesn't get to just declare an emergency for something that Congress has deliberated many times over the past several years," he told ABC News. "We have to make sure that each branch stays within its own lane and Congress retains its power over the purse."

The Senate (including Rand Paul), also voted to override the declaration, but Trump's ensuing veto—his first as president—ended that particular fight.

NEXT: Offenders in California Get Saddled with Thousands of Dollars in Court Fees. This Bill Would Stop That.

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  1. >>>but even that phrasing is inadequate to the task of describing the iconoclastic apostasies of the Ron Paul/F.A. Hayek-inspired congressman.


    1. The new version of Reason.com is behind worthless in a tablet. Whoever designed the new site should be brutally tortured to death for what they have done.

      Goddamn them to Hell.

      1. Amash is a scumbag who co-owns MIT, a company which owns Tekton, which ILLEGALLY imports chinese products and claims they were made in the US. That is why he’s suddenly so vocal. This adoration of anyone who confronts Trump has to stop. The same idiots would have elected Avenatti.

  2. Who was the third each of these 11 threesomes? Politics does make strange bed fellows, so they say.

  3. REPUBLICAN Rep Justin Amash (R-Mich.)

  4. The national press, meanwhile, is trying to assess this strange political creature.

    Enjoy being the darling whilst you can, Congressman. At some point they’ll remember you voiced support for traditional marriage.

  5. also, Marc Sanford *should* be kicked at every opportunity for being so stupid. did you ask Justin if he wants that as an example?

    1. Don’t judge a man for decisions made because of love.

      1. never never i do everything for love … also i would have resigned to chase the love not made a fool of myself and South Carolina … the stupid was not resigning first.

        1. Love is the law. Love under will.

  6. “libertarian Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.)”
    Say what? (R- means Republican, does it not?
    He is Libertarian like Bernie is Independent.
    If you caucus with republicans, you are a republican
    If you run as a republican, you are a republican
    Just because he is not a good republican party member does not make him a Libertarian.

    1. They call Paul and Massie libertarian leaning.

      Attacking Trump and ignoring police state/banana republic corruption by the left apparently gets you full libertarian membership.

      Reason is a joke.

  7. Wow, all these Amash hagiographies. Two in a row by Welch .
    Is Reason hoping Amash is their ‘libertarianish’ ticket to social acceptability amongst the Bien Pensants?

    Still waiting for one honest writer here to ask Amash to cite the part of the Mueller Report that tells him Trump obstructed.


      Just like O.J.

      Carry on, clingers.

      1. How about you cite the part of the Mueller Report that tells you Trump obstructed, Kirkland.

        1. You expect a denialist to respond with facts? Ha and ha.

      2. Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland
        May.22.2019 at 5:30 pm
        Just like O.J.”

        Bigoted assholes seem to forget that OJ was actually charged with a crime rather than investigated (and exonerated) for some nebulous ‘collaboration’.
        But bigoted assholes are know to be fucking lefty ignoramuses, aren’t they?

    2. Perhaps Reason writers respect Amash’s titanium ballzac.

      1. Oh yeah, takes some big ones knowing that the entire corporate press and other corrupt hacks have your back.

  8. 1. Justin is wrong about the travel ban.
    2. Justin is wrong about trade.
    3. Justin is wrong about birthright citizenship (except the executive order part, maybe).
    4. Justin obviously dislikes Trump, which is fine, but it’s affecting his judgment (TDS). He fell for the Russia conspiracy theory hoax. He exhibits derangement in matters regarding Russia. He’s abandoning his vaunted Constitutional fidelity by ignoring the “other side” malfeasance in this matter and displays no awareness of the unitary executive structure of our Constitution and the many ways it is undermined.

    I still like Justin Amash, and I think he’s standing for principles as he sees them. He just needs a cure for his TDS.

    1. Amash is gearing up for a campaign run. He is in no way standing for principles.

      1. Amash is gearing up for a campaign run.

        Why does he bother? I mean, Democrats hate him, Trump supporters hate him, and a sizable fraction of libertarians hate him too.

      2. Doesn’t he also have business interests in China that are affected by the current trade situation?

    2. Can we get a list of all the times John crossed swords with Tony?

      1. 11 Other Times Justin Amash Crossed Swords With President Trump

        Yeah, as it is no longer the 19th century, can we just use Got Skullfucked By” instead?

    3. He is faithful to sharia loving CAIR. A 75% rating according to the news.

      A VERY Libertarian position.

  9. Justin should stick to issues like these. The impeachment thing is a political loser. Just ignore it. Or if he’s so strongly concerned about it that he’ll rip off a string of tweets, he should at least support his position with relevant facts from the report.

    1. Bears repeating.

      he should at least support his position with relevant facts from the report.

  10. 1) Amash was wrong. Dead wrong, if not outright lying. The law Congress passed says the POTUS may bar “any alien or class of aliens” as he/she sees fit

    2) Right about the ACA, wrong about tactics that could see something pass the Senate

    3) Dead wrong, Congress has no business interfering in the Exec Branch. The POTUS can fire those that serve at his pleasure. Grandstanding

    4) Score one for Amash

    5) Though correct, this was a tactical move that yielded results benefiting Free Trade

    6) More shameless grandstanding

    7) Amash is right here

    8) Another A,mash win, over style

    9) Big Amash win here, over substance

    10) Amash on the high ground

    11) Congress, not Amash, crossed swords and protected teir turf

    and 12) Amash ultimate grandstand move, knowing he is done, makes up crap over impeachment.
    Contrast his lack of as firm a stance over real Obama-era Constitutional abuses of power

  11. POO* throws another toddler tantrum, seeks affirmation and cuddles from People Like You.

    Trump Walks Out on Pelosi and Schumer After 3 Minutes

    *President Orange Obstruction

    1. Yeah, I’m laughing my ass off over that – mainly because there are plenty of people claiming Trump’s throwing a temper tantrum and refusing to talk to mean poopy-heads that said mean things about him is Trump showing some sort of strength and resolve and fighting back. As if Trump is nothing but class and dignity and grace and has never uttered an unkind word about anybody in his life. Thin-skinned little Trumpy boy sure can dish it out but he obviously can’t take it.

      The corker though is Trump claiming Pelosi is wrong to say he’s engaged in some sort of cover-up because “I don’t do cover-ups”. Stormy Daniels begs to differ, as do all those people Trump demand sign NDA’s if they come within a thousand yards of him. But you can’t hardly accuse him of being a liar when he tells such obvious whoppers like that one.

      1. Jerryskids
        May.22.2019 at 7:25 pm
        “Yeah, I’m laughing my ass off over that ”
        I’m laughing my ass over your imbecility; pathetic.

        “Thin-skinned little Trumpy boy sure can dish it out but he obviously can’t take it.”
        Amazing that a case of TDS this bad is not yet fatal.
        Thin-skinned little jerry boy can claim knowledge where none is evident, right little thin-skinned jerry juvenile?
        Grow up; you and that hag lost.

      2. I’ve had to sign NDAs to get employment. I probably need to find out what all those companies were covering up.

  12. Amash is destroying the libertarian ideology’s reputation among those in this population that actually still value liberty.

    Reason cheers them on.

    What an absolute disaster this magazine has been for libertarians.

    1. Is all about the Koch KA$H

      A lot of Billionaires believe Trump makes them all look bad.

  13. If there is one thing a libertarian can count on it is no support from libertarians.

  14. Number 3 is my absolute favorite. Read. The. Fucking. Letter.

    For a brief time, 24 hours or so, the media was reporting that Trump had fired Comey for his gross mishandling of the Hillary e-mail investigation and that Rosenstein had written the memo making the case for the firing.

    Trump’s ego could not handle Rosenstein getting the credit for firing Comey, so he just had to whip out his dick and stomp on it with both feet by claiming that Rosenstein had nothing to do with firing Comey (Read. The. Fucking. Letter.) and that it was all me, me, me what done the thing and that he had done it over the Russia investigation. If Donny Dickhead could have just kept his fat mouth shut, let the story be that Rosenstein had effectively fired Comey over the Clinton investigation, insisted that he personally had the utmost respect and admiration for Comey and his honor and integrity, blah, blah, blah, but sadly had to defer to the expertise of others in the DoJ (utmost respect and admiration for the honor and integrity of all those fine folks, too) – none of this obstruction shit would have gotten the traction it did.

    Number 3 is an absolute indictment of what a fat-headed loudmouth Trump is and how he has absolutely no filter between his brain and his mouth, some sort of Tourette’s that compels him to vocalize whatever random thought pops into his head with no thought at all about how this gibberish might be interpreted. Maybe it’s all the drugs, maybe it’s the fact that his parents were first cousins, maybe it’s the lack of oxygen to the brain caused by having his head up his ass for such an extended period of time, I don’t know, but Trump is definitely not right in the head.

    1. Jerryskids
      May.22.2019 at 8:16 pm
      “…Trump’s ego could not handle Rosenstein getting the credit for firing Comey, so he just had to whip out his dick and stomp on it with both feet by claiming that Rosenstein had nothing to do with firing Comey (Read. The. Fucking. Letter.)…”

      Your claims to know what Trump is thinking are symptomatic of TDS, Jerry.
      Please don’t seek help; we can hope it’s fatal.
      Tiresome, and pathetic.

  15. Thanks for reminding us what a hypocrite and statist Justin Amash actually is.

    1. LoL

      1. ^ +1,000,000 🙂 🙂

  16. Crossed Swords. Thanks for that.

  17. Why are there two of #4? Am I seeing double?

    Regardless, sometimes I was on Amash’s side, sometimes Trump’s. But if these items are representative, the Freedom Caucus isn’t much for freedom. Many of the items are just frivolous, but the health care vote alone was enough to convince me libertarians’ bread and butter is with Trump more than with the Freedom Caucus. Who cares if it recodified some of the worst of the ACA, if the likeliest outcome of “no” was accepting it as it was? This was like saying there’s nothing that could be done about it.

  18. Know who knows how to mobilize for liberty? Grover Norquist. He’s not an elected official, but he can get a lot better things done better than this Amash. What’s Norquist doing these days?

    1. I used to agree with Norquist that strongly opposing any tax increases was a good way of limiting the power of the state and move towards libertarianism, but it doesn’t seem to have worked. Tax cuts or not, spending just keeps increasing, and spending increases financed through borrowing or printing money are an even worse violation of the NAP than taxation.

      The only way spending is going to be reined in is if the Americans who vote for spending are actually having to foot the bill explicitly through their own taxes.

      1. “The only way spending is going to be reined in is if the Americans who vote for spending are actually having to foot the bill explicitly through their own taxes.”

        Nice idea; how do you propose to do so?

        1. Tree of liberty something something.

  19. Justin has joined swords with CAIR.

    1. LOL:-)

  20. Hoping he runs against POO*, if only to hear the awesome nickname POO gives him. Is Amash “sleepy,” “creepy,” “Amish” (what?) or just “lying” (sorry Ted Cruz, POO wants that one back).

    *President Orange Obstruction

  21. As for firing Comey the only mistake appears to be not doing so in his inaugural address.
    Rand Paul just laid out the correct issue of abuse of power by the intelligence agencies. It is not only the main issue, it is the issue.

  22. Prashing!!

  23. […] limiting the number of amendments that can be offered on the floor—and bemoaned the ways that partisanship has poisoned the well for reasonable debate in […]

  24. […] limiting the number of amendments that can be offered on the floor—and bemoaned the ways that partisanship has poisoned the well for reasonable debate in […]

  25. […] devotion to the principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility has led to numerous clashes with both Republicans and Democrats. But his tweets last week, calling for President Trump’s […]

  26. […] devotion to the principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility has led to numerous clashes with both Republicans and Democrats. But his tweets last week, calling for President Trump’s […]

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