In Donald Trump’s America, Rep. Justin Amash Sets an Independent Course

TIME magazine, October 2019.

His decision to leave his party on July 4 came months before the biggest news story in American politics broke. In September, House Democrats formally announced they would pursue an impeachment inquiry into Trump, centered on whether the President asked a foreign government to investigate one of his top political rivals. As congressional Republicans have circled the wagons around Trump, Amash has spoken out critically. He called the summary of the call between Trump and the President of Ukraine “highly incriminating,” and indicted most Republican attempts to defend Trump as “an effort to gaslight America.”

Amash’s moves aren’t necessarily surprising to those familiar with his tenure in Congress. A pugnacious conservative who drafted the original mission statement for the House Freedom Caucus, Amash has long had a reputation for being the Lego beneath the foot of Republican leadership.

But being the dissident is also risky. Loathed by the GOP establishment and estranged from his former allies in the Freedom Caucus, Amash now must reintroduce himself to his constituents in a district that went for Trump in 2016. Suddenly, after five straight election victories, Amash’s re-election campaign is a toss-up. It’s a race that will test the price of principle in Trump’s America.