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GOP lawmaker says Trump’s conduct meets ‘threshold for impeachment’

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) speaks at a news conference in Washington. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a critic of President Trump who has entertained a run against him in 2020, became the first Republican congressman to say the president “engaged in impeachable conduct” based on the Mueller report.

The Michigan lawmaker, often the lone Trump dissenter on his side of the House aisle, shared his conclusions in a lengthy Twitter thread Saturday after reviewing the full report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Amash wrote that after reading the 448-page report, he had concluded that not only did Mueller’s team show Trump attempting to obstruct justice, but that Attorney General William P. Barr had “deliberately misrepresented” the findings. He added that “few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report.”

“Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” Amash wrote.

The special counsel's report laid out evidence of potential obstruction of justice for Congress, but the attorney general says there was no crime. (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Late Saturday, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel released a statement rejecting Amash’s comments: “It’s sad to see Congressman Amash parroting the Democrats’ talking points on Russia. The only people still fixated on the Russia collusion hoax are political foes of President Trump hoping to defeat him in 2020 by any desperate means possible.”

The president often claims the report shows “no collusion, no obstruction,” though neither is true. Mueller did not establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, which interfered in the 2016 election. Mueller did not rule on the question of obstruction of justice, saying it was something Congress should determine.

Amash wrote that it was partisanship keeping Republicans from exercising their obligation to provide checks and balances.

“When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law — the foundation of liberty — crumbles,” he tweeted.

Amash, a libertarian, considers himself a strict constitutionalist and in February was the lone Republican to join a Democratic bill to stop Trump from declaring a national emergency to fund his border wall.

“From the time the president was elected, I was urging them to remain independent and to be willing to push back against the president where they thought he was wrong,” Amash told CNN in March. “They’ve decided to stick with the president time and again, even where they disagree with him privately.”

When Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen testified before a House committee in February, most Republicans dismissed him as a convicted liar. Amash asked Cohen: “What is the truth President Trump is most afraid of people knowing?”

Elected in 2010 during the tea party wave, Amash co-founded the House Freedom Caucus, which at the time devoted itself to issues such as repealing the Affordable Care Act. Since Trump’s election, the group has morphed into a mouthpiece for the president on Capitol Hill.

Despite his frequent critiques of the president — when Trump mocked former congressman Mark Sanford last year after he lost his House race in South Carolina’s Republican primary, Amash called it a “dazzling display of pettiness and insecurity” — Trump has not hit back.

But in June 2017, Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, was reprimanded for violating a law forbidding federal employees from campaigning when he encouraged an Amash primary challenge, tweeting: “@justinamash is a big liability. #TrumpTrain, defeat him in primary.”

The White House and the Justice Department are currently at loggerheads with congressional Democrats over the latter’s desire to do their own vetting of Trump.

Amash’s full-throated condemnation of Barr, Trump and his colleagues could give Democrats more ammunition to continue pursuing their investigations.

Paul Kane contributed to this report.