So as not to pretend to be smarter than I am, I want to admit that Congressman Justin Amash (R-Michigan) was not on my radar prior to becoming the first and so far only Republican office holder to call for President Trump’s impeachment. I knew him, to the extent that I remembered his name, as a member of the Congressional Freedom Caucus, and that’s it.
Nor do I find it all that relevant that he has called for President Trump’s impeachment. The Republicans in Congress at this point are largely grifters who see government as a stepping stone to real money as lobbyists or TV personalities. The idea that they have principles, one that I took seriously for years, is laughingly refuted by the way in which Christian culture warriors condemned Barack Obama, who is a practicing Christian with a sterling family life, but are willing to ignore Donald Trump’s manifestly un-Christian behavior and sexual predation because he’s popular with their base.
It is obvious in Mitch McConnell’s recent admission that his justification for not allowing a Senate vote on Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in an election year — so that “the people” would have more decision-making power — would not apply to a Supreme Court nominee by Donald Trump in an election year because Trump is a Republican.
It is made obvious by the fact that a foreign government conducted an attack on our elections, and congressional republicans have taken no action on it because, at least for the moment, the foreign power was backing their candidate.
This is not a party of people with principles, or one for people with principles. Justin Amash is not indicative of anything.
But in his first town hall in front of his constituents since calling for Trump’s impeachment, he made an interesting point, one that is worth pointing out despite the fact that it will make no difference.
Confronted by a constituent who said that the investigation into Trump was corrupt in the first place, because it had depended on the FBI getting secret warrants from a FISA judge, Amash replied that he has in fact voted against FISA, the Patriot Act that empowered it, and that literally all the Republican congressmen and President Trump could, if they wanted, repeal the FISA rules and the Patriot Act surveillance apparatus right now, so that it could never be misused by politicians and bureaucrats looking to abuse their power.
But they’re not doing that. They’re not even considering it. And in fact, when he proposes curtailing these laws and these government powers, the Republican Congress and President Trump fight his efforts.
In other words, while claiming that the government used corrupt rules to launch a corrupt investigation, they go out of their way to preserve those “corrupt” rules so that they, too, can use them.
“They don’t support FISA reform,” Amash told his constituents. “They are not protecting your rights. They want to protect the president. But the rest of you, forget about it. The government can spy on all of you, and they don’t give one crap about it.”
Just like everyone in government knows that McConnell’s justification for not voting on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee was bulls**t, but Republicans went along with it because it was convenient, everyone in government knows that the idea that the Mueller report was illegitimate is bulls**t: it was a real investigation into a serious attempt by a foreign government to meddle in our elections — which is a threat to national security and it led to a substantial number of criminal charges against people in high office, many of whom have pled guilty.
Still, the idea that the FISA law and Patriot Act can be abused is a very serious one — one that people actually interested in curtailing the powers of an intrusive government would act on.
But they do not.
If you think the investigation into President Trump was unethical, you need to ask yourself why your legislators are determined to keep the processes that made it possible.
Here’s my answer: it’s because they are unscrupulous people who want to have unaccountable power over you.
Justin Amash, much to my surprise, is a man of genuine character who votes in accordance with his conservative principles. And now the Republican establishment, and President Trump, are attacking him for it.
Don’t think for a minute that they will be any kinder to you if no one holds them accountable.