Justin Amash 'Still Wouldn't Rule Out' 2020 Presidential Run; Says Pelosi Making 'Strategic' Mistake by Not Impeaching Trump

Days after very publicly declaring his exit from the Republican Party, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash on Sunday left open the door that he could jump into the 2020 presidential race as an independent or third-party candidate.

Amash appeared Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, where host Jake Tapper asked him directly if he had any intention of running for the nation's highest office, whether it be as an independent candidate or as a nominee for a third party like the Libertarians.

"I still wouldn't rule anything like that out," responded the 39-year-old congressman. "I believe I have to use my skills, my public influence, where it serves the country best, and I believe I have to defend the Constitution in whichever way works best. And if that means doing something else then I do that. But I feel confident about running in my district. I feel a close tie to my community. I care a lot about my community; I want to represent them in Congress."

Tapper attempted to press Amash on when the representative might get around to deciding on a potential Oval Office run, but the congressman would not be more precise about any timing.

"It's something people talk about all the time," he explained. "It's not something that's right on my radar right now, so I couldn't tell you."

Amash did say he has every intention of defending his seat in Congress, despite no longer having a national party machine behind his campaign and a potential loss of authority on Capitol Hill. As an independent, the congressman could lose his seat on the powerful House Oversight Committee.

"I anticipate that I may be kicked off," that panel, admitted Amash, who later argued that committees — where most new laws are created and vetted before going to the House floor — no longer have the authority they once did.

"In today's politics, the committees have almost no power. I want people at home to understand that," said Amash. "Everything is really run top-down... I mean that very literally. The Speaker of the House very much controls that process. The Speaker decides what comes out of committee. When Speaker [Paul] Ryan, our Republican Speaker, was there, I was on several committees and nothing ever came out of the committees that wasn't approved by Speaker Ryan."

Independent Rep. Justin Amash tells CNN's Jake Tapper that he wouldn't rule out a run for president: "I believe I have to defend the Constitution in whichever way works best and if that means doing something else, then I do that" CNNSOTU https://t.co/cnryboY2Yp pic.twitter.com/MBXaYjiXmX

— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) July 7, 2019

Regarding current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Amash — who had been the only sitting Republican lawmaker to support the impeachment of President Donald Trump — said Pelosi was making an error with her public reluctance to move forward with the impeachment process.

"From a principled, moral position, she is making a mistake. From a strategic position, she's making a mistake," said the congressman. "If she believes, as I do, that there's impeachable conduct in there, then she should say so. She should tell the American people we're going to move forward with impeachment hearings and potentially articles of impeachment. When she says things like 'Oh, I think we need to have the strongest case before we go forward,' what she's telling the American people is she doesn't think there's a strong case. If she doesn't think that, then she shouldn't open her mouth in the first place and say there's impeachable conduct."

Amash repeated his previous claim that there are Republicans and others in Washington who have privately supported his decision to break with Trump. He agreed with Tapper's suggestion that the president's sometimes vicious verbal attacks of his critics is a big part of many GOP lawmakers' hesitance to speak their minds about this administration.

"They're afraid they'll be attacked," he explained. "They're afraid that people back home who are listening to certain forms of media will say, 'Well, the president's right. This guy's a terrible person so we need to go after him.'... I don't think a lot of the partisan discord and the rest started with President Trump — it's been going on for years and it's gotten worse in recent years — but he's helping to fuel it and he's making it worse and he's making more difficult for people to be independent in Congress."

Justin Amash