Amash slams Trump on Syria, keeps door cracked open for 2020 presidential bid

By: - October 20, 2019 9:18 am

Justin Amash | Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Cascade Twp.) on Sunday hit President Donald Trump for the hasty withdrawal of American troops in Syria earlier this week where U.S. officials said a ceasefire is not holding.

“I think the president should have withdrawn troops long ago,” Amash said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” morning show, where he again left the door open for a presidential run and said he believes his former GOP colleagues are a long ways from supporting the impeachment inquiry. 

“But when you withdraw troops, you have to plan ahead of time how to handle it,” the West Michigan congressman continued. “And he could have prepared in advance for the obvious consequences. He certainly knew what Turkey would do. And then he acts surprised that they’re coming in and committing acts of violence.”

Earlier this week, Amash voted “present” on a bipartisan rebuke of Trump’s Syria actions. He defended that vote on Sunday morning, saying, “We never should have been there in the first place,” and stressing that congressional approval is needed for putting U.S. troops in Syria or anywhere else. 

The troops being withdrawn from Syria are now being moved to Iraq and other places around the Middle East, according to news reports. 

“It’s pretty clear [Trump is] not bringing home the troops,” Amash said. 

The only independent member of the U.S. House is facing a litany of challengers from both parties for his 3rd District seat anchored in Grand Rapids. Several Republican challengers emerged after Amash became the first Republican to back an impeachment inquiry into Trump. He dropped his GOP affiliation shortly thereafter.

The fear of primary challengers means that most House Republicans are a long way from supporting impeachment, Amash said on Sunday. 

“Realistically, politics drives a lot of this and representatives are elected every two years, and they hear from their constituents, and frankly a lot of the Republicans will be worried about primaries,” Amash said “And they think the president is popular within the primary electorate — and he is.”

Indeed, only one other GOP House member — U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) — has announced an openness to backing impeachment and he announced his retirement shortly thereafter.

While Amash is seeking reelection to his seat as an independent, he has repeatedly left open the possibility that he would run for president, possibly as a Libertarian. 

He did so again on Sunday morning.

“I’m running for Congress, but I keep things open and I wouldn’t rule anything out,” Amash said.

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.