Justin Amash got just what many observers say he wanted from his remarks that President Trump should be impeached – a lot of ink from an adoring mainstream media.
But that media, which prides itself on asking touch questions and speaking truth to power, mysteriously never inquired what specifically Amash, a Republican who represents the Grand Rapids, Mich., area, saw in the report from special counsel Robert Mueller or in Attorney General William Barr’s interpretation of it that led him to believe Barr has misled with his report or that Trump deserved to be impeached.
Multiple outlets quoted Amash’s tweets. “President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct,” read one. “Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” read another. The report, Amash states in another tweet, “identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.”
He goes on to explain in subsequent tweets that impeachment is “a special form of indictment” that “does not even require probably cause that a crime (e.g. obstruction of justice) has been committed.” And yet another that says, “While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face I an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.”
Still others admonished members of Congress for not reading the entire 447-page report and stated “both parties shift their views 180 degrees – on the importance of character, on the principles of obstruction of justice – depending on whether they’re discussing Bill Clinton or Donald Trump.”
The Washington Post lauded Amash’s use of social media to explain his stance. “The simple formula [of explaining every vote via tweet] has turned the libertarian, who rode into the House on the tea party wave, into something of a sensation.”
The Daily Beast wrote that Amash made “his case with a lengthy Twitter thread detailing what he described as the president’s ‘impeachable conduct’” – even though no such details were described.
The Associated Press noted that “The Justice Department, which Barr leads, operates under guidelines that discourage indictment of a sitting president.”
CBS News celebrated not only Amash’s attack on the president but his attack on Congress for changing their moral principles according to who is president and lauded Amash for “calling out the partisanship of many lawmakers.” It also pointed out he “has been described as the ‘new Ron Paul’ due to his Libertarian beliefs” and has “broken ranks with the Republican Party before.”
Yahoo News’ lead overstated Amash’s remarks, saying he was “the first politician of his party to call for removing the president from his party” and noting his “comments went even further than those by most Democratic leaders in Congress.”
Even Slate acknowledged Amash had merely said the president had “engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment” but hadn’t issued “an outright call” for it.
It pointed to further Amash criticism of Barr that the attorney general’s “misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies, which he hopes people will notice.” It does not say what any of these sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies are, and Slate did not ask.
The New York Times tried to evade the issue of asking Amash what instances he is talking about by promoting one of its own stories. Amash, it wrote, “used Trump’s favorite medium – Twitter – to join a groundswell of Democrats who have concluded that the president’s behavior, including instances of potential obstruction of justice laid out in the report by the special counsel …” It links to a piece by two Times reporters claiming to identify when Trump obstructed justice.
It also did not ask Amash for examples.
Photo by Gage Skidmore