Rep. Justin Amash said his Republican colleagues are caught in an untenable position trying to defend President Donald Trump as the controversy surrounding his dealings with Ukraine continues to grow.
Asked by CNN’s Erin Burnett on Monday night whether those around the President were essentially forced to lie in order to defend Trump, Amash replied, “Yeah, and it’s a shame.” Amash left the Republican Party this past summer and became an independent after he became the sole GOP lawmaker to publicly argue that Trump had engaged in impeachable conduct.
“I think they know better and I think, deep down, they wish they weren’t, you know, trapped in this position,” Amash said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
“And I hear that from my colleagues on the House floor. I hear them talk about how they wish they weren’t doing this.”
He linked that dynamic to many of the recent retirements in Congress, describing them as “people who are just trying to ride out this President, and they might think of coming back into public office later on, once this President is gone.”
Amash’s comments come as Trump moves to safeguard party support with impeachment proceedings charging forward, after some Republicans struggled to back the administration’s defense of his Ukraine dealings as well as other controversies that flared up over the weekend.
Amash on Monday also defended acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who drew Trump’s ire after he said – and then denied saying – that Trump had frozen nearly $400 million in US security aid to Ukraine in part to pressure that country into investigating Democrats.
“Anyone working in this administration is going to have a hard time explaining what’s going on,” Amash told Burnett. “You’re asking a lot from these officials to go out onstage and try to keep the story straight.”
Mulvaney “was telling the truth there, that there was a quid pro quo,” Amash added. “And then he went back and realized, oh, well that’s not what the President wants to hear.”
Republican Rep. Francis Rooney of Florida suggested on Friday that he could be open to impeaching Trump – before announcing Saturday that he would not run for reelection.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, Kevin Liptak, Katelyn Polantz and Haley Byrd contributed to this report.