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What’s behind Rep. Dean Phillips’ push to get Rep. Justin Amash on the impeachment team

REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Rep. Dean Phillips said he’s gathered a group of around 33 Democrats to sign on to the idea that Rep. Justin Amash help make the case for impeachment.

Should Rep. Justin Amash, the Republican-turned-Independent from Michigan, help make the case for impeaching the President? Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnetonka said that when the idea struck him on Friday evening, he reached out to his close confidants first, and then asked more of his colleagues.

As first reported by the Washington Post on Sunday, Phillips said he’s gathered a group of around 33 Democrats to sign on to the idea that Amash help make the case for impeachment. “He would be a terrific member of the management team if indeed articles are forwarded to the Senate for a trial,” Phillips told MinnPost.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will select members to represent House’s case for impeachment during the Senate trial, called impeachment managers, that will serve as a sort of team of prosecutors. Reps. Adam Schiff of California and Jared Nadler of New York, the two committee chairs running impeachment so far, are almost certain to be chosen. But the other three slots committee could be competitive, as several members are asking for a slot, including Rep. Stacey Plaskett, a delegate to Congress representing the U.S. Virgin Islands.

But Phillips believes someone like Amash, a Tea Party libertarian, is needed to demonstrate the case that impeachment isn’t about partisanship.


Phillips, a moderate Democrat and a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, said he has already spoken with Amash and that the Michigan congressman was “humbled and I think surprised.”

“I didn’t want to float the idea to our whole Democratic freshman class without at least that he would be interested … and that’s exactly what I did,” he said. “And we’ve been corresponding since.”

When asked which members have signed onto the idea, Phillips said he has 33 strong affirmative yes statements on the idea from members, but he’d rather not say who. “I’m not going to divulge names,” Phillips said. “I think that’s up to individuals to do so.”

At least one Democrat, Rep. Max Rose of New York, told MinnPost that he is supportive of the effort.

Rep. Justin Amash
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Phillips believes someone like Rep. Justin Amash, a Tea Party libertarian, is needed to demonstrate the case that impeachment isn’t about partisanship.
The idea has has been latched onto by pundits and public figures from disparate parts of the political spectrum.

“As others have suggested, Rep. Amash should be one of the impeachment managers for the Senate trial,” Kevin Kruse, a historian of American History, said on Twitter. Michelle Goldberg, a New York Times columnists that leans significantly to the left of most of her colleagues, said on Twitter: “Democrats should choose Amash as one of their impeachment managers.” And Charlie Sykes, editor of the conservative (but Never-Trump website) The Bulwark, called the suggestion a “Good idea.”

Amash told HuffPost’s Matt Fuller that he has so far not been approached by Pelosi about the idea, but “would have the conversation.”

House Democrats plan to vote on impeachment on Wednesday. If they are approved, articles of impeachment will be forwarded to the Senate for a trial, which will be presided over by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Phillips said he fully intends to vote for articles of impeachment, come tomorrow.


“In fact, you know, [I’ve been] using language similar to Rep. Amash, which is that our responsibility is not to try or convict or acquit,” Phillips said.

“Our responsibility is analogous to a grand jury to assess the evidence and determine if it warrants a trial.”

Comments (15)

  1. Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/18/2019 - 08:16 am.

    There is really no masking that the fact that this is a purely partisan impeachment. An Independent Representative on the management team is a veneer so thin that it shouts desperation.

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 12/18/2019 - 10:43 am.

      Impeachment by definition is a political process. The only reason it’s partisan in this instance is because the current Republican party is comprised of individuals who have abdicated all honor, integrity and loyalty to the country they claim to serve and the Constitution they claim to have sworn to uphold. They are a disgrace and should all be removed from office.

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/18/2019 - 04:50 pm.

        It is partisan because the Democrats are doing it.

        All of the talk of integrity, loyalty, and honor. Does that sound like Democrats? If only all of the Republicans would resign, your fantasy would be fulfilled. The Bidens and the squad could be in charge.

        The thing I love most about the impeachment is that the longer it goes on the more traction it loses. Check the CNN polls; mid-November had 50% favoring impeachment and removal, but now is 45%. But most significantly for election, sales are down and declining in swing states.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 12/18/2019 - 12:46 pm.

      Tel that to John Kasich.

  2. Submitted by Jeff Goldenberg on 12/18/2019 - 11:13 am.

    I applaud this effort by Rep. Phillips.

    Five days ago an idea occurred to him that presented both potential risks and rewards on a subject of great national concern. From his position on the back bench he focused himself on steps to explore, test and move forward his idea.

    In just a few days he has taken his brainstorm and turned it into a plausible option for the House leadership to consider as they move forward.

    This is the type of work and impact we need from our elected officials regardless of their politics.

  3. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 12/18/2019 - 12:37 pm.

    “But Phillips believes someone like Amash, a Tea Party libertarian, is needed to demonstrate the case that impeachment isn’t about partisanship.”

    This is the problem with “Centrist” Democrats, they have no clue, despite mountains of evidence, who their opposition actually is. As evidenced by the first comment to this post, (“An Independent Representative on the management team is a veneer so thin that it shouts desperation.”) there isn’t anything they can do to change the mind of the Trump cultists. He said it himself during the campaign, he could shoot someone on 5th Aveneue and he wouldn’t lose a single voter. Philips and his ilk need to wake up to who the opposition is.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/18/2019 - 11:01 pm.

      Phillips and his colleagues seem unable to wake up to how much this impeachment will help their opposition.

      Once this process moves over to the Senate, Republicans will call their witnesses and control the narrative. They can drag it out into the Democrats’ primarily season.

      • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 12/19/2019 - 10:30 am.

        I don’t think you’ve been listening to Senate Majority Leader Moscow Mitch. Aside from his colluding with the defendant in a case where the Constitution requires him to be impartial, he’s been saying that there will be no witnesses. Democrats requested that several of Donald’s staff, who have first hand knowledge of his actions, testify before the trail, but Mitch refused their request. The only narrative they will control is one that says its okay for the President of the United States to request foreign interference in our elections. They may be a winning strategy with what has become a very radical right wing base, but it ain’t gonna play well with the rest of the country.

  4. Submitted by Judith Bird on 12/18/2019 - 07:19 pm.

    Yikes, what’s wrong with “centrist” Democrats? What’s wrong with “centrist” Republicans. There was a time when those groups worked for the good of the country. COMPROMISE!!! (as Trump would never put in a tweet, but WOULD use the caps and exclams) I have been a Dem since I was born. Dad Teamster, Mom SEIU, me ultimately MAPE. Henk, you are the problem, not the solution. You thrive on divide. Your way or the highway. This country is diverse. You cannot will this country to be in your tight framework. It is malleable and we all work together to find ways to drive this country to its best. You cannot demonize the opposition as they do to us. Stop the stridency and voice a willingness to listen.

  5. Submitted by Michael Ofjord on 12/19/2019 - 06:52 am.

    Thank you, Judith Bird, for speaking words of wisdom. I applaud Rep. Phillips for reaching across the aisle. Though I am appalled that the Republican Party voted in this narcissistic human and so happy he is impeached, we still have to compromise in the world of politics. She is right that you cannot force people to think as you do, and it will never happen. So let’s be clear about our principles, but realize there is a chance we may not have all the truth. Let’s listen.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/19/2019 - 08:55 am.

      Actually, the Republicans are across the aisle and none of them voted with them for impeachment, including the never-Trumpers.

      Amash is an Independent, and the Democrats wish to use him as a tool in their effort-in-vain to make this impeachment appear non-partisan. If he wants to be a tool, he will say yes to being on the House management team. I think he is smarter than that.

  6. Submitted by Paul Yochim on 12/19/2019 - 08:05 am.

    Remember how the Democrats courted Arlen Specter. He jumped ship and the Pa. Democrats didn’t back him in his bid for re-election. It is the same reason why John McCain never switched political parties. The same thing will happen to Rep. Amash if he decides to switch from an independent to a Democrat.

  7. Submitted by Steve Rose on 12/20/2019 - 08:12 am.

    Now the House isn’t sending their articles to the Senate. If they produce no impeachment product, there is no impeachment.

    Due to a principle known as separation of powers , the House Speaker doesn’t conduct nor control business in the Senate.

  8. Submitted by Steve Rose on 01/16/2020 - 05:17 am.

    And now we know that Speaker Pelosi didn’t like this idea or Amash said no.

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