Over the weekend, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash became the first congressional Republican to call for the president’s impeachment, based on the findings of the Mueller report. Amash tweeted, “If you think my job is to support the president one hundred percent, then you don’t understand what it means to be a representative in Congress.” At the same time, other Republican lawmakers are unsettled by former White House counsel Don McGahn’s refusal to comply with a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee.
Sean Theriault, a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin, says the Trump administration may now face some “blowback” as a result of these actions. He says Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has said he’s “leery” about the situation, and Amash, a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, wants a full hearing about the findings in the Mueller report.
“Some of the Republicans on Capitol Hill … recognize that first, they are members of Congress, and not necessarily members of Trump’s Republican Party,” Theriault says.
But Republicans face risks when they speak out against Trump. Theriault says another Michigan state Rep. Jim Lower, announced he’d run against Amash in the 2020 primaries shortly after Amash’s tweet.
“That’s what all Republicans fear: Trump is really popular among the Republican base; as soon as you show a little bit of daylight between your own views and the president’s views, then you make yourself vulnerable to a challenge in a Republican primary,” Theriault says.
But he says Trump could lose some support if his administration continues to resist cooperating with Congress.
“I suspect you’ll start hearing more people sound a little bit like Mitt Romney that said that, look, we are members of Congress, and we have an obligation to oversee what happens in the Executive Branch,” Theriault says. “This is all part of their duties as outlined in Article I.”
But those who speak out against the Trump administration right now don’t necessarily support impeachment proceedings like Amash. Theriault says impeachment is like a “big, gray cloud” hanging over Washington, but it’s likely a more popular topic in the news media than it is among members of Congress.
“I’m sure that Congress is doing the things that it always does, funding the government, trying to figure out some solutions to some problems,” Theriault says. “But as long as impeachment is in the news, every single reporter, every single person covering the House is gonna say … ‘should we go forward with impeachment or not?’”
As for Texas Republicans in Washington, Theriault says it’s unlikely any will speak out against Trump or his administration.
“I suspect that the Texas Republicans are perhaps some of the most loyal to the president,” he says.
Written by Caroline Covington.