House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Wednesday the seven managers who would prosecute the case to impeach President Donald Trump in the Senate trial. To the disappointment of some Democrats, independent Rep. Justin Amash was not one of them.
Amash, who left the Republican Party last year, was the only conservative to vote to impeach Trump on two charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Since no Republican crossed the aisle, Amash was for Democrats the next best thing in refuting the claim that the third presidential impeachment in US history is just a partisan witch hunt.
The Michigan congressman said on CNN Wednesday there is a “very strong case” for removing Trump from office “if the senators are willing to listen.”
He also joined Democrats in pushing for a “full and fair trial” with witnesses, but he said he “never was contacted by any of the Democratic leadership.”
“I would have had the conversation with the speaker if she wanted to have that discussion and then we could have talked about the role and whether I would accept that role,” Amash told CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” when asked if he would have been a manager if asked. “But without that conversation, I couldn’t say.”
A group of freshmen House Democrats had advocated for Amash to be on the prosecution team, hoping he would be able to persuade senators and Americans beyond their party that Trump deserves to be removed from office.
“As an attorney, former Republican, and the only independent member of the House of Representatives, he has articulated the constitutional rationale for impeachment as well as anyone in Congress, and his absence is a missed opportunity for a bipartisan management team,” Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who led the effort, told CNN.
Despite the wishes of some Democrats, Pelosi did not consider Amash for the job and said her members are “very, very excited about the managers.”
In her news conference, Pelosi said her “emphasis” was on “litigators,” people who had a “comfort level in the courtroom.” The seven House Democrats — Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Zoe Lofgren of California, Val Demings of Florida, Jason Crow of Colorado and Sylvia Garcia of Texas — also reflect the geographic, racial and gender diversity of the Democratic caucus.
“It would have been great” if Amash had been selected as an impeachment manager, said Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey. “But we are where we are, so — onward.”
In December, Amash explained his support for impeaching the President on the House floor, noting he came to his decision “not as a Democrat, not as a Republican but as an American who cares deeply about the Constitution, the rule of law and the rights of the people.” He said Trump “abused and violated the public trust by using his high office to solicit the aid of a foreign power, not for the benefit of the United States of America but instead for his personal and political gain.”
Amash has been a sharp critic of the President, saying Trump committed impeachable offenses well before it came to light that he pressured Ukraine to damage his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, while holding military aid as leverage.
The congressman not only broke from the Republican Party last year, but also continues to consider a third-party bid against the President. He recently told the conservative media outlet The Dispatch, “Is there any better time to have a president who might be not from either party?”