WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Rep. Justin Amash (R-Grand Rapids) has stepped down from the House Freedom Caucus, a group he helped establish in 2015.
CNN was the first to report Amash leaving the conservative group. They reported he said he didn't want to be a "further distraction for the group."
13 ON YOUR SIDE confirmed the information with Amash's press secretary, Poppy Nelson. He did not have a statement, but his office said CNN's Haley Byrd's reporting is accurate.
Amash is still dealing with the aftereffects of being the first Republican member of Congress to say that President Donald Trump committed "impeachable conduct," as laid out in the Mueller report.
The House Freedom Caucus unanimously voted to condemn Amash for his impeachment comments. Amash reportedly had been clashing with other members of the group under the direction of the president before he resigned Monday.
Ideologically, the House Freedom Caucus is known to be comprised of the most conservative House Republicans.
AMASH'S IMPEACHMENT COMMENTS
Since mid-May, Amash has been in the spotlight after he published a 13-tweet thread that explained his conclusions on the Mueller report. The Republican representative said he read the whole report, and from what the Russia probe found, "President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct."
The Mueller report has been in the works for much of Trump's presidency. And since its release in April, questions still remain about what action, if any, will be taken as a result of the Russia probe.
Following the congressman's first tweet's the president called him a "loser."
Amash has not backed down from his position, rather he has continued to question Attorney General William Barr's summary of the Mueller report, saying Barr misled Congress and the public.
Representing Michigan's 3rd district, Amash held a town hall in Grand Rapids 10 days after tweeting his initial opinion. At the event, he fielded questions from voters and Trump supporters. He also used the night to defend his position on impeachment and challenged Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to make a move on impeachment proceedings.
Since talking with his constituents at the end of May, Amash has continued to double down on Barr and his concerns about the report. However, he has stopped short of actually calling for the impeachment process to begin. He has tweeted that "the ball is in our court, Congress," about charging the president with obstruction of justice.
Amash tweeted another thread on June 7 where he continued to call into question Barr's summary of the report that he gave to Congress. In that thread, he said the report is "damning for the president."
THE BACKGROUND OF THE MUELLER REPORT
The Mueller report was prepared by special counsel Robert Mueller who investigated President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and possible Russian interference in the presidential election.
After Mueller finished his report, it was given to Attorney General William Barr who issued a four page summary of the investigation on April 4. Barr's summary was the focus of criticism, with House Democrats questioning if it presented filtered version of the report.
In Barr's summary, he said Mueller did not find evidence that Trump's campaign "conspired or coordinated" with Russia to influence the election. However, the report reached no conclusion whether Trump obstructed justice.
On April 18, a redacted version of the 448-page report was given to Congress. Revelations from Mueller's findings are still being discussed and analyzed, including from Amash.
Monday night, the House expected to receive the first files of evidence from Mueller as Democrats consider impeachment proceedings against the president.
AMASH AND HIS CHALLENGERS
The incumbent congressmen is facing two Republican challengers in the 2020 primary and one Democrat in the general election for the 3rd district seat in Congress.
All of their campaigns have amped up as Amash faces criticism and praise for his recent commentary. When asked if he thinks his recent controversial statements will hurt him in the election, he said “The answer is no, I am not concerned about it.”
The 3rd district covers Grand Rapids and parts of Ionia, Barry and Calhoun counties.
State Representative Jim Lower, a Republican from Greenville is running against Amash for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020. And Tom Norton, a Republican from Sand Lake, is also challenging the five-term Congressman.
Doug Booth is the sole Democrat who has started a campaign against Amash. The 3rd district congressional seat hasn't been held by a Democrat since 1993, but Booth believes it is "flippable."
The DeVos family of West Michigan said in May that they will be ending their longtime support of Amash. They will not be making any financial contributions to the Congressman this election cycle.
A group of Michigan Trump supporters organized a "Squash Amash" rally for Friday in Grand Rapids. They are calling for the congressman to step down.
In recent weeks, Amash has been asked repeatedly if he is considering a run for president as an independent. His response is always the same: he hasn't ruled it out.
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