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Justin Amash Stands Alone As Sole Republican To Call For Impeachment Proceedings


Justin Amash stands alone - the western Michigan congressman is the only Republican in Congress to have called for impeachment proceedings against President Trump. And yesterday, he was the only Republican to vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress. Now Amash is getting taunts and insults from other Republicans, including President Trump's son. Michigan Radio's Dustin Dwyer reports from the congressman's district in Grand Rapids.

DUSTIN DWYER, BYLINE: Jordan Bush has known Justin Amash since kindergarten.

JORDAN BUSH: Five-year-old Justin Amash was a lot like 39-year-old Justin Amash is like.

DWYER: He says Amash is diligent and intentional, someone who doesn't bend his principles. Bush went on to work for Amash's congressional office. He says he saw the same person there that he did in kindergarten.

BUSH: Justin is the least surprising representative in Congress, once you have an understanding of how he views his role.

DWYER: According to Bush, Amash views that role as upholding the Constitution and protecting individual liberty. Amash stayed silent for almost a month after special counsel Robert Mueller's report was released to the public in April. But when Amash did have something to say, he put it on Twitter. Amash tweeted that the report showed that President Trump engaged in impeachable conduct and that Attorney General William Barr intentionally misled people about what's in the report.

Not long after, Amash held a town hall event in Grand Rapids, in an auditorium at his old high school.


JUSTIN AMASH: I think it's really important that we do our job as a Congress, that we not allow misconduct to go undeterred, that we not just say...


AMASH: ...Someone can violate the public trust and that there are no consequences to it.

DWYER: Amash answered questions for two hours that night. He got multiple standing ovations. But not from everyone.


ANNA TIMMER: I think a lot of the people here that are cheering you and applauding your courage, most likely a lot of them didn't vote for you. I, on the other hand...

DWYER: This is Anna Timmer. She says she's voted for Amash in every election he's been in and volunteered for his campaign before. But now she's changed her mind. Timmer says it's not just the impeachment talk; she supports Trump, and Amash never has. Timmer says it doesn't matter to her if Amash says he's standing on principle.

TIMMER: You know, he's not sitting on the Supreme Court. His job is not to, you know, kind of drone on and on about tiny, little, debatable portions of the Constitution that not everyone agrees with him on; his job is to represent us.

DWYER: And that is where Amash may face his biggest challenge in the next election - not just over his stance on impeachment, but over whether he can get anything done as a representative when his whole party is against him. Andy Johnston is with the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber backed a primary challenger against Amash in 2014. While Amash won that race, Johnston says he may not this time.

ANDY JOHNSTON: You know, things have changed. You know, some would say that he's vulnerable at this point. He got elected during a Tea Party swell. That Tea Party is now, you know, the party of Trump in many ways.

DWYER: Two Republican challengers have already announced that they'll run against Amash in the next primary, and Amash has also lost the support of the powerful and wealthy DeVos family, who have funded his past campaigns. Amash says he's not worried about losing his seat, but in recent weeks, no fellow Republicans have publicly come to his defense. So for now, Amash remains alone in his own party.

For NPR News, I'm Dustin Dwyer, in Grand Rapids, Mich. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Dustin Dwyer is a reporter for a new project at Michigan Radio that will look at improving economic opportunities for low-income children. Previously, he worked as an online journalist for Changing Gears, as a freelance reporter and as Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Before he joined Michigan Radio, Dustin interned at NPR's Talk of the Nation, wrote freelance stories for The Jackson Citizen-Patriot and completed a Reporting & Writing Fellowship at the Poynter Institute.