Monday, December 16, 2019

Conservative Justin Amash considered as impeachment trial manager for Dems

You know the old saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” It is apropos with the push for conservative Representative Justin Amash to be part of the impeachment management in the Senate trial. The thing is “Amash is a principled and decent person who puts the rule of law and the Constitution ahead of everything.” You can’t say that about a lot of conservative politicians these days. Here’s the rest of the story.

Freshman Democrats push for Amash as impeachment manager writes Rachel Bade in the Washington Post. Charlie Sykes has a short version.

The Amash Surge

This. Is. A. Great. Idea.

A private campaign is underway to draft Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) as an impeachment manager in the Senate trial of President Trump, a bid to diversify House Democrats’ appeal to voters with a rare conservative voice.

A group of 30 freshman Democrats, led by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), has asked House leaders to consider the libertarian, who left the Republican Party earlier this year, for the small group tasked with arguing its case for removing Trump in the upper chamber, according to several Democratic officials.

The thinking, according to these people, is that Amash would reach conservative voters in a way Democrats can’t, potentially bolstering their case to the public. He also would provide Democrats cover from GOP accusations that they’re pursuing a partisan impeachment; Amash is one of the most conservative members of the House and a vocal Trump critic.

Don’t take my word for it:

Neal Katyal
@neal_katyal
Neal Katyal Retweeted Rachael Bade
It’s not just @justinamash’s politics in not being a democrat. It’s that he has demonstrated a serious and smart understanding of the Constitution and Trump’s wrongdoing. I hope this happens.

Exit take: odds may be against it, but it would be a very, very smart move for Democrats.

Bade wraps it up in her WaPo story.

Discussions about Amash are particularly timely given the news that Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a moderate Democrat from New Jersey, is expected to change parties, in part out of frustration with his own colleagues for pursuing what he calls a partisan and divisive impeachment based on “hearsay.” Republicans are already salivating at the prospect of holding up the soon-to-be former Democrat as a prime example that the party has overreached with impeachment and is repelling more moderate Americans.

Enter Amash, who has been a vocal critic of Trump on Twitter, using the platform over the past few months to argue that Trump has breached the public’s trust, engaged in unethical behavior and should be impeached.

On Friday, Amash jabbed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for saying he would coordinate with the White House to acquit Trump rather than remain impartial. He also lambasted Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) for telling CNN in an interview that “I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here.”

“Senator Graham has chosen to violate his oath to support and defend the Constitution, his oath to do impartial justice in an impeachment trial, and his duty to represent all the people of his state, not just those who share his political views or desire a particular outcome,” Amash wrote.

I posted a couple of pieces about Amash back in July 5 and 6: One is the loneliest number … and Justin Amash might run for president. Here’s why he should from a conservative. A strong endorsement of Amash from that conservative describes Amash this way.

“Amash is a principled and decent person who puts the rule of law and the Constitution ahead of everything. In this political era, it’s hard to ask for more than that.”

UPDATE: Here are valuable observations for WHY JUSTIN AMASH SHOULD BE AN IMPEACHMENT MANAGER by Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel.net.

I’m sitting about six blocks from one of Gerald Ford’s childhood homes. That means I live in a city with an outsized role in America’s history with impeachment. Since the time I’ve lived in this city, our Federal Building added a sign reading (over-optimistically), “Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men.”

It also means I’m a constituent of Justin Amash, who has an office in that Federal Building named after Gerald Ford.

And I’m solidly in support of the idea — floated by thirty freshman Democrats — for Amash to be among the Impeachment Managers presenting the case in the Senate.

I think Amash brings several things this impeachment effort could badly use.

First, Democrats missed an opportunity in the House Judiciary hearing on Constitutional issues behind impeachment to call someone like Paul Rosenzweig, a Republican who worked on the Whitewater investigation, who backs impeachment in this case. While a bunch of Democratic lawyers were testifying, Amash was and has continued tweeting to his colleagues about how important impeachment is to the Constitution. It is critical to have a voice making the conservative case for upholding the Constitution. Just this morning, a long time local Democratic activist I was speaking to was hailing how Amash has used his University of Michigan law degree to make the case for impeachment.

Meanwhile, even as the national press has spent countless hours interviewing demographically unrepresentative panels of voters from my county to understand how swing state voters feel about impeachment, Amash has risked his career in that swing state district. Well before queasy Democrats in swing districts came around to the necessity of impeaching President Trump, Amash left his party and took a stand to defend the Constitution. I think his courage may serve as inspiration for Republicans in the Senate who secretly recognize the necessity of impeaching Trump, even while they may worry they’ll ruin their political career. Amash also has close ties with (especially) Rand Paul and other libertarian leaning Senators (like Mike Lee and Ted Cruz), so might be persuasive with them, even if all of them have already basically opposed impeachment.

Finally, a point that some of the more hawkish people involved in impeachment (like Adam Schiff) may not understand, Amash works really well in bipartisan coalitions. He has long been a key member of the privacy coalition and currently serves as the “Republican” co-chair, with Zoe Lofgren as the Democratic co-chair, of the Fourth Amendment coalition. The cornerstone of that coalition, over more than a decade, has been honesty about where progressives and libertarians (and even traditional conservatives) share goals and where we disagree, sometimes dramatically. But with that cornerstone of shared understanding, and with a sense of responsibility for what each side can and should do to support the Constitution, he has been an invaluable member of a team. Some of the people who might also be considered as Impeachment Managers — like Jamie Raskin — would have experience with Amash in such a context. At the very least, Lofgren should be able to give Pelosi reassurances that Amash is utterly reliable when working as part of a bipartisan coalition. This is a topic, the President’s abuse of his authority, on which Amash took a Constitutional stand, which is precisely the kind of common foundation his past work with Democrats was built on.

I don’t get a vote. Speaker Pelosi gets to decide. But as an Amash constituent who has long found common ground with Amash on issues rooted in the Constitution, I think his involvement would be a tremendous value.

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