Rep. Justin Amash, a libertarian-leaning Republican from Michigan, offered his take last night on the possibility of impeaching President Donald Trump. While impeachment proceedings and a subsequent trial in the Senate are constitutional, he wrote, the process should not be taken lightly.
On Tuesday, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on eight counts of tax and bank fraud. That same day, Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitted in court to coordinating with his boss during the 2016 campaign to pay several women not to talk about their sexual liaisons with Trump. On top of it all, Cohen's lawyer has said his client is willing to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Speculation has thus abounded that Trump could be impeached, especially if Democrats take back control of the House in the November midterm elections.
According to Amash, the allegations against the president should be "taken seriously." But before acting in a way that could affect Trump's tenure, Congress should wait for Mueller to release the results of his investigation into Russian election meddling:
We should allow Robert Mueller to complete his investigation and issue his report before taking any action potentially affecting the president's tenure.— Justin Amash (@justinamash) August 23, 2018
Amash then cited Alexander Hamilton's Federalist No. 69, which suggests that the president cannot be criminally prosecuted while in office. "Before facing ordinary criminal liability, he first would have to be impeached, tried, convicted, and removed from office," Amash wrote.
While impeachment proceedings are constitutional, they're "reserved for situations that present substantial evidence of egregious wrongdoing by the officeholder," Amash noted. Disliking a president or disagreeing with his policies isn't reason enough:
We don't impeach simply because we dislike a person or disagree with his policies. If you're unhappy about @POTUS, then don't vote for him in 2020. The electoral process should determine who holds the executive power.— Justin Amash (@justinamash) August 23, 2018
Impeaching a president, he reminded readers is not the same thing as finding him guilty:
Upon impeachment by the House, the Senate conducts a trial. Only here does the vote represent a finding of guilt. While there is reasonable disagreement about the proper burden of proof, I believe that a very high standard must be met to overturn the results of an election.— Justin Amash (@justinamash) August 23, 2018
Amash concluded by saying he hopes "we don't get to this point." Still, "I think it's important, given recent news, that members of Congress share their thoughts on this matter with the people they represent."
The congressman's comments should not be taken as a sign of blind support for Trump. Just last month, Amash blasted Trump's joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, commenting that Trump "went out of his way to appear subordinate" and "spoke more like the head of a vassal state."
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