Michigan Congressman Justin Amash decided to go there when discussing the Mueller Report by suggesting President Donald Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. The libertarian Republican laid out his case on Twitter yesterday in a series of well thought out tweets.
His main argument has nothing to do with Russia – there was no collusion after all – but on the President’s conduct towards Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Amash sees Trump’s attempts to exert influence over the probe as untenable – and does not care if the President’s advisers sought to keep him from making moves to remove Mueller. Amash’s belief appears to be focused on the idea Trump violated the public trust by telling Corey Lewandowski and Reince Priebus to get former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign. The same could be said about Trump’s belief the AG’s Office should take the investigation from Mueller. It’s still up for debate, however, and no consensus will probably ever be reached.
The more interesting part of Amash’s declaration is the “why.” He isn’t the kind of person to say something without actually meaning it, yet, Amash is a politician so there’s obviously an angle. It’s doubtful he’s looking to become a Democrat due to his love of free markets and his stance government is best when it’s weakened and restrained. Democrats do not believe this – although one could successfully argue Republicans don’t either.
It’s possible Amash is going to seek the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president. One would urge him caution because he’s likely to have more influence in the House as one of the lone voices for liberty. Amash’s voice may be considered “lightweight” by the President but he cast multiple votes in favor of the tax cuts and supported First Step Act. Former Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen doesn’t believe Amash is going to run as a Libertarian. Reason’s Nick Gillespie believes otherwise writing there’s now a compelling reason for Amash to be the Libertarian nominee. It would have to depend on Amash’s ability to reach but staying in Congress seems better than not.
The best guess is Amash is trying to teach the American people – and remind Congress and the president – of the importance of following the Constitution.
“Our system of checks and balances relies on each branch’s jealously guarding its powers and upholding its duties under our Constitution,” Amash tweeted. “When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law—the foundation of liberty—crumbles.”
It’s here where Amash makes his most salient point – which is sadly being buried or glossed over in the coverage of his comments.
Amash appears to believe there has been a failure in both major political parties to follow the Constitution because politicians have allowed numerous holders of the presidency to grasp power it shouldn’t. He’s echoing comments, to a certain extent, made by St. George Tucker in 1803 during his analysis of The Constitution.
“The limitations which the constitution has provided to the powers of the president, seem not to be sufficient to restrain this department within its proper bounds, or to preserve it from acquiring and exerting more than a due share of influence,” Tucker noted in View of the Constitution of the United States. “To this cause it may be attributed, that in addition to the very extensive powers, influence, and patronage which the constitution gives to the president of the United States, congress have, from time to time, with a liberal hand, conferred others still more extensive; many of them discretionary, and not infrequently questionable, as to their constitutionality.
“These circumstances but too well justify the remark, that if a single executive do not exhibit all the features of monarchy at first, like the infant Hercules, it requires only time to mature its strength, to evince the extent of its powers. Crescit occulto velut arbor avo.”
The ‘tree’ Tucker is referring to in Latin is no longer growing in secret. The executive gobbles up power on a daily basis due to the failure of Congress – and the executive – to not guard it as a wizard would some artifact of power. Part of it is because the government is full of humans who are fallible to whatever whim suits their fancy.
Both parties need to take a close look at their beliefs and whether they actually understand and believe in the Constitution. Yes, it would mean – should Amash’s words be taken to the fullest extent – the threat of impeachment would become more of a sword of Damocles. Perhaps this is the best effect to rein in an executive which has for more than two centuries run amok.