New details have emerged on what led to Rep. Justin Amash’s (I-MI) formal withdrawal from the Republican Party in July.
According to a Washington Post report out Tuesday, the spat between President Donald Trump and Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), a fellow House Freedom Caucus member and unapologetic Trump critic, forced Amash to reconsider what it meant to be part of the party.
During a meeting with Republican congressmen in late June, the President had sarcastically congratulated Sanford — who wasn’t in attendance — “on running a great race” after losing his primary to a Trump-aligned GOP candidate. That same night, Sanford found out what Trump had said and learned that Amash had his back during a dinner with fellow Freedom Caucus members.
“Justin said, ‘We have to defend Mark, because if he goes after him, he could go after any of us,’” Sanford told the Post. “Everyone else there, well, they just kinda stared at their toenails.”
As the Post noted, Freedom Caucus founding member Mick Mulvaney is now Trump’s acting chief of staff and budget director, and Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) have become some of the President’s most vehement defenders.
Amash left that dinner frustrated as he realized that the Freedom Caucus was just another group of Trump cheerleaders, the Post reported. Up until then, Amash had felt that the Caucus had more of a backbone, especially when its members would criticize Barack Obama on spending and what they felt was executive overreach.
He told the Post that it’s all basically “performance art” and that he was not shocked that his fellow Caucus members turned toward Trump as a way to “survive until the next season.” Amash added that most would be surprised by what these same people say about the President off-camera.
Amash decided that “he’d had enough of the show” shortly after the dust-up over Sanford. The next day, Amash tweeted that Trump’s visit was a “dazzling display of pettiness and insecurity,” and took time away from the Freedom Caucus.
“He ghosted them,” Corrie Whalen, Amash’s former communications director, told the Post.
After Trump had mocked Amash’s departure from the GOP in July, the Freedom Caucus refused to come to his defense.
“I don’t hate the President,” Amash said after he spoke to a crowd in a brewery outside Grand Rapids in August, according to the Post. “He’s doing bad things to the country, and I wish he would stop. But I don’t hate politicians I disagree with.”
Read the Washington Post’s report here.