FOX Business Network's Judge Andrew Napolitano interviewed Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) about leaving the Republican party, President Trump and impeachment, and if he will run against the president in 2020. Napolitano also asked Amash about the Republicans who privately support his stance on impeachment.
"Well some of them who are my friends, others are people I interact with on a daily basis on the House floor," Amash revealed. "Some of them are just acquaintances. Some of them I don’t even know that well but they reach out to me. So I don’t want to name the names of people who are telling me these things because these are actually the ones who are at least are going half way in saying, yes I think there’s a problem or I support what you’re doing. The real problem is the people who don’t even want to say that. They don’t even want to go that far. They are mindless zombies here. Just going along with leadership day after day."
"The only thing I’ve said is what I’ll say today which is that I haven’t ruled it out," Amash said about running for president. "I don’t think in life you should rule out things like that. When you feel like you have the ability to make a positive impact, defend the Constitution on a different stage in a way that maybe would be more productive. You shouldn’t rule it out."
JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, KENNEDY GUEST-HOST: Joining me tonight in an exclusive Fox interview Michigan Congressman Justin Amash. Congressman Amash, good evening and welcome here.
REP. JUSTIN AMASH, (I-MI): Hi Judge. Thanks for having me on.
NAPOLITANO: So why did you call for the impeachment of the President of the United States?
AMASH: Well I read the Mueller report and spent time with it for about a month and then came to the conclusion that the president had engaged in impeachable conduct and there were several counts that Mueller had laid out. And while he didn’t present it as a conclusion himself, he laid out the evidence and said it’s up to Congress to move forward.
NAPOLITANO: I think you’re probably speaking about Volume II of the Mueller report which articulates the - - the evidence that Mueller found that supports the claim of obstruction of justice. Because we know from history, the Clinton impeachments - - impeachment and the near Nixon impeachment the House of Representatives declared that obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense. But when you - - when you did this how were you treated by your fellow Republicans publicly and how were you treated by them privately?
AMASH: Well, it was very different depending on whether I was speaking to them in person or whether I was watching them on TV. So, many of many of them would come up to me on the House floor or text message me or send me an email saying, hey thanks for what you’re doing. And even though some of them hadn’t come to the same conclusion they had said well we’re still reading the Mueller report and still analyzing it. Then they’d go on TV and fully defend the president as though there was nothing wrong so this is a - - a very common thing in Congress. It’s something I’ve seen for years and really this Congress has taken it to a new level. So it’s not something that is brand new it’s just that we’ve reached a new level of partisan hypocrisy.
NAPOLITANO: When the House of Representatives which is now run by the Democrats has to make a decision. Look, let - - let me restate that. When the Republicans in the House of Representatives have to make a decision, do they debate and articulate and interact with each other or they - - do they just do what leadership wants? Whether leadership is a Republican speaker or as is the case now a Republican minority leader?
AMASH: There’s almost no debate here in Congress. It’s almost all directed by leadership. So, you - - you’d imagine at home that the House and the Senate would be deliberative bodies where you come and you express your ideas. You have debates and you think through the issues and you come to a - - the right conclusion based on that debate. But instead, what happens here is leadership tells you exactly what to think. In fact, everyday when we vote on the House floor leaders send out messages to their respective parties telling them how to vote on various amendments and various bills and most of the members of Congress don’t read any of it. They just come to the floor and leadership said do this and they vote for it and some times they’ll have parochial concerns that are raised by their staff.
AMASH: But it’s very rarely based on the merits of the legislation.
NAPOLITANO: Where do you think impeachment is going to go? I mean, you’re the only Republican that’s called for it. The Democrats are - - are hopelessly divided. Where does this go in the next step? We’re less than two years from a presidential run. The president is probably going to run for reelection. He says he’s going to run. He doesn’t have a serious challenge in his own party. Do you think impeachment will take place in the next 16 months?
AMASH: It doesn’t seem like it right now. It’s up to Nancy Pelosi. She’s the Speaker of the House as I said, the thing is controlled completely by people at the top. So the Speaker of the House controls whether we move forward. I think she’s making a serious mistake. If she came out and said, hey we have evidence that is impeachable and we want to move forward, so many people would fall in line behind her within her - - within her own caucus. And a lot of Americans then would also say, it seems like there’s something serious here. Remember most Americans are not reading it.
AMASH: They expect us to read the Mueller report and they’re looking to us to help give them the idea of whether there is impeachable conduct. If the Speaker of the House says, hey I don’t think we’re ready to move forward, what kind of message is she sending the American people? She’s - - she’s sending the message that there’s nothing there and there is something there.
NAPOLITANO: In a recent interview you gave to CNN made a surprising claim about the quiet support you’ve received. Let’s take a look at what you said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMASH: When I was discussing impeachment, I had fellow colleagues and - - and other Republicans, high level officials contacting me saying thank you for what you’re doing. So there are lots of Republicans out there who are saying these things privately but they’re not saying it publicly and I think that’s a problem for our - - for our country. It’s a problem for the Republican party. It’s a problem for the Democratic party when people aren’t allowed to speak out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NAPOLITANO: So Congressman Amash, here’s what everybody wants to know. Who are these Republicans that whispered in your ear? You’re right Justin, you’re right but I can’t say it publicly. Who are they?
AMASH: Well some of them who are my friends, others are people I interact with on a - - on a daily basis on the House floor. Some of them are just acquaintances. Some of them I don’t even know that well but they reach out to me. So I don’t want to name the names of people who are telling me these things because these are actually the ones who are at least are going half way in saying, yes I think there’s a problem or I support what you’re doing. The real problem is the people who don’t even want to say that. They don’t even want to go that far. They are mindless zombies here. Just going along with leadership day after day.
NAPOLITANO: But it’s important - - it’s important to the republic - - for the country for people to know if there are Republicans who question Donald Trump’s fitness in office and if they’ve made that questioning known to you. You’re not in the Republican party anymore. You - - you don’t have anything to hide or anybody to protect. Please tell us who they are.
AMASH: So - - so they are Republican colleagues. They are Republican officials. Again - -
NAPOLITANO: Are they members of the House of Representatives?
AMASH: Yes. But when people tell me things in confidence on the House floor or they send me a text message, I don’t want to say that publicly. I don’t think that’s appropriate for me to do because they sent me those messages privately. But there are lots of people within the House of Representatives. I’m not saying it’s the majority of Republicans on the House floor. What I’m saying is, there are several people in the House of Representatives and there are many high level officials and others who have reached out to me as well.
NAPOLITANO: Now, you are very popular in your home district in Michigan. You’re not going to run as a Republican because you’ve left the Republican party. I - - I think, correct me if I’m wrong, the last time we counted there are four Republicans vying for the Republican nomination. Question Congressman, can you get reelected as an Independent with no organized party support behind you?
AMASH: Yes. And there are more than four Republican candidates now and yes I can get reelected and I will get reelected as an Independent. I haven’t had party support behind me for years and years as you know Judge. They’re - - they’re - - the party has come after me because I’ve been fighting against the establishment, fighting against the political class in Washington for years and now you have Donald Trump teaming up with the establishment. It’s Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy who are hand and hand working together.
They’re - - he’s working hand and hand with the establishment and they’re teaming up now to try to take out Independent minded people. And I have colleagues who are also very Libertarian or Independent minded within the Republican party and they’re being targeted now as well. So it’s not just me, they’re going after people who think for themselves and that’s very dangerous.
NAPOLITANO: The Kevin McCarthy to whom you refer is the Congressman from California who is the minority leader, the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives but I want to ask you another question about your future. Because this has been swirling all throughout the country since you made your - - your two announcements, one leaving the party and the first one that - - that you thought the president was unfit for office. Are you seriously considering a run for the presidency on the Libertarian ticket which would of course put your name on the ballot in all 50 states?
AMASH: The only thing I’ve said is what I’ll say today which is that I haven’t ruled it out. I don’t think in life you should rule out things like that. When you feel like you have the ability to make a positive impact, defend the Constitution on a different stage in a way that maybe would be more productive. You shouldn’t rule it out. Now I haven’t gone through the whole analysis to think through it but I’m very honored to be representing my district. It means a lot to me to represent my district. I want to go win in my district and show people that an Independent can win in Congress.
NAPOLITANO: Where can you be more effective in defending the Constitution? As an almost lone voice, I know Tom Massie is there with you, Thomas Massie on - - on almost all issues as an almost lone wolf voice on the floor of the House or on the ballot in all 50 states pointing out how neither party believes in the - - in the values of the Constitution. Where can Justin Amash be more effective in 2020?
AMASH: Well both activities would make a big impact and so I’ll keep thinking about it but right now I’m proud. I’m honored to be representing my district. I means a lot to me to represent people back home and - - and so that’s what I’m - - that’s what I’m moving forward with right now.
NAPOLITANO: How does your buddy and my buddy Thomas Massie feel about what you’ve done? The two announcements you’ve made. The president is unfit for office and your leaving the Republican party.
AMASH: So I don’t want to speak for Thomas. Thomas is one of my friends. He’s been a great Congressman.
AMASH: One of the best Congressmen we’ve had here in - - in decades, so I don’t want to speak for him. But he’s - - he’s doing a fantastic job for us in Congress.
NAPOLITANO: Does anybody in Congress besides you and Congressman Massie take the Constitution seriously today?
AMASH: Yes. There are other members of Congress who are doing a great job. You know, I wish some of them would be more outspoken at times but we have a lot of great members of Congress. When I say a lot, maybe like, you know, half dozen but Chip Roy is another guy who comes to mind who - - who is a surprise. He came into Congress this term and he’s been fantastic and doing a lot of great work and I really respect him.
NAPOLITANO: Congressman Amash, always a pleasure. Thanks very much for joining us tonight.
AMASH: Thanks so much Judge, really appreciate it.