/Amash quits House Freedom Caucus

Amash quits House Freedom Caucus

Justin Amash

“If you’re fighting to defend the Constitution, if you find a way to do that that’s different and maybe more effective, then you have to think about that, ” said Rep. Justin Amash. | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Rep. Justin Amash quit the conservative House Freedom Caucus on Monday night, weeks after becoming the lone Republican to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

The Michigan lawmaker told a CNN reporter that he has “the highest regard for them, and they’re my close friends,” but he “didn’t want to be a further distraction for the group.” Amash’s decision to step down was confirmed to POLITICO by his office.

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Amash, a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, has long been a lone wolf in Congress, routinely bucking GOP leadership and defying Trump on a number of issues throughout the past two years.

But Amash’s support for impeachment roiled members of the Freedom Caucus, who found Amash’s criticism dead wrong. The group decided to uniformly oppose his impeachment stance last month, though they stopped short of kicking him out of the caucus — despite some lawmakers complaining that Amash was still a member.

Amash, a 39-year-old libertarian who rode the 2010 tea party wave to Congress, had stopped showing up to HFC meetings this year and even threatened to quit the group at one point last year after they didn’t stand up to Trump for attacking one of their own members, South Carolina’s Mark Sanford, who was facing a pro-Trump primary challenge. (Sanford lost his primary.)

Now, Amash finds himself in a similar position, facing two primary challenges back home and being ripped by Trump on Twitter. While Amash beat back a primary challenge from an establishment candidate in 2014, he faces a far more uncertain political future in the age of Trump, in which fealty to the president has often become a litmus test in the GOP.

There has also been speculation Amash might challenge Trump in 2020 as a libertarian candidate, something he did not rule out a recent town hall.

“I’ve said many times, I don’t rule things like that out,” Amash said. “If you’re fighting to defend the Constitution, if you find a way to do that that’s different and maybe more effective, then you have to think about that.”

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