U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday assailed Congressman Justin Amash as "a total lightweight" after the Michigan lawmaker became the first Republican to call for Trump's impeachment.
The U.S. leader said he was "never a fan" of the five-term member of the House of Representatives, claiming he "opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy."
Trump said Amash "is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!"
Amash, echoing numerous Democratic lawmakers, claimed that Trump "engaged in impeachable conduct" by attempting to obstruct special counsel Robert Mueller's 22-month investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Some Democratic lawmakers in the House have called for Trump's impeachment, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not given her approval for the start of any impeachment hearings, while leaving open the possibility as several House committees conduct new investigations of Trump's business affairs, taxes and his more than two-year tenure in the White House.
Trump has vowed to fight all efforts at subpoenas for information about his conduct and administration policies. Some of the disputes about access to Trump and White House records are already being fought in legal battles, with more likely to come.
Mueller concluded that Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia to help him win the election, but said it could not reach a decision on whether he obstructed justice. Subsequently, Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided obstruction charges were not warranted against Trump.
Amash, after reading the Mueller report, contended in a string of Twitter comments on Saturday that Barr "has deliberately misrepresented Mueller's report," saying that Barr "intended to mislead the public" about Mueller's findings.
Amash said, "Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment. In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence."
A long-standing Justice Department policy says that sitting U.S. presidents cannot be charged with criminal offenses, but can be charged after they leave office.
Amash said, "Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause that a crime [e.g., obstruction of justice] has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct."
The congressman said that he thinks "few members of Congress" have read the Mueller report and that "their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation."
Senator Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican and sometimes Trump critic, told CNN on Sunday that he thinks Amash's stance was "a courageous statement," but said that while he was "troubled" by Trump's conduct as described in the Mueller report, he does not think it rose to the level of the need for impeachment.
Even if the Democratic-controlled House impeached Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate would almost certainly reject removing Trump from office. Romney said, "The Senate is certainly not there yet."
Trump said that if Amash "actually read the biased Mueller Report, 'composed' by 18 Angry Dems who hated Trump, he would see that it was nevertheless strong on NO COLLUSION and, ultimately, NO OBSTRUCTION... Anyway, how do you Obstruct when there is no crime and, in fact, the crimes were committed by the other side?"