GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The only Republican in Congress to accuse President Donald Trump of impeachable conduct faced voters in his Michigan district Tuesday, receiving standing ovations from many who saluted his “courage” while sparring with some former supporters who faulted him for embracing a Democratic “smear attack” against Trump.
Over two hours, fifth-term Rep. Justin Amash fielded more than two-dozen questions from an estimated crowd of 900 that packed a high school auditorium in Grand Rapids. He said those who read special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Trump’s conduct during and after the 2016 presidential election will be “appalled,” and said Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to hold the majority rather than uphold the law.
“We can’t let conduct like that go unchecked,” Amash said. “Congress has a duty to keep the president in check.”
Asked by one questioner whether impeachment proceedings are worth the time since Trump is up for re-election next year, he said he is concerned the country has reached the point where impeachment may never be used in any circumstance.
“That is a greater risk than the risk that it will be used too often,” he said, noting the high hurdles that exist before impeachment would lead to a president actually being removed from office. “It is more dangerous for our country to allow a president to mislead people, make things up.”
Amash said Mueller determined that Trump asked former White House counsel to create a “false record.”
“Things like that to me reflect incredible dishonesty and really harm the office of the presidency. I don’t think that you can just let that stuff go. I think you have to have proceedings to deter this kind of conduct even if ultimately the person is not convicted.”
Several people thanked Amash for his stance — drawing sustained applause — while some in attendance told him that he is in trouble politically and those praising him are Democrats who hate Trump. Two Republicans are running against Amash, who has not ruled out potentially running as a Libertarian for president.
“I’ve been your supporter since you started running for Congress, and I can’t tell you how disappointed I am,” said Diane Luke of Grand Rapids, who characterized Mueller’s report and Democratic criticism of Trump as a “smear attack.”
But another woman, Pamela Medford-Conley of Cedar Springs, said she read Mueller’s report and agreed with Amash’s assessment.
“If you actually read the whole thing, I don’t know how you can come to different conclusions,” she said after the town hall event. “Now whether or not we should actually impeach him, I don’t know.”
In one particularly testy exchange, Anna Timmer of Grand Rapids told Amash that a lot of people cheering him on “most likely didn’t vote for you.” She said she made hundreds of calls on his behalf during his first congressional campaign, in 2010, and has voted for him every two years.
“I was there for you from the very beginning. I would like to say since that time, I have changed my position on you,” Timmer said. “You have spent the last two years failing to do your job, which is to directly represent the popular will of your constituents.”
Amash responded: “My job is to uphold the Constitution.”
Timmer said there is no proof that Trump had a corrupt intent. Impeachment would “tear this country apart,” she said. She accused Amash of political grandstanding to raise his profile nationally.
“You know you have no future in this district as a Republican,” she said.
Another woman yelled: “This Republican still loves you Justin!”
Earlier, when a man asked if Amash is going too far to “fall on your sword to do what you believe is right,” he said he is not worried about losing in 2020.
“I believe in the people I represent,” he said. “I believe the people are smart enough to figure out what’s going on. … The president did much worse than I did in this district.”
Follow David Eggert on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00