Justin Amash (R-MI) recently became the first Republican member of Congress to say that President Donald Trump had allegedly engaged in impeachable conduct when he first shared a thread on Twitter on May 18.
At a recent town hall event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on May 28, a woman voter accused Amash of political grandstanding in an attempt to raise his own political profile and added that he has “no future in this district” as a Republican.
Amash represents Michigan’s third congressional district, which includes Grand Rapids.
In a Twitter thread on May 18, Amash wrote that he had read the Mueller report (pdf) and from his reading, he determined that Attorney General Wiliam Barr “has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report,” and that “President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.” He also wrote that “partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances,” and that “few members of Congress have read the report.”
Since posting the tweet, Amash had turned down media interviews, and the town hall meeting on May 28 was his first major appearance in public. On the day, the woman voter, whose name is unknown, stood to address Amash from the crowd and said that she has changed her opinion of him.
“I think a lot of the people here who are cheering and applauding your courage most likely didn’t vote for you,” the woman told him. “I, on the other hand, voted for you in every election since 2010. And in fact, I worked on your first campaign in 2010.”
“I was there for you from the very beginning. I’m not sure how many people applauding your courage were. But I would like to say that since that time I have changed my position on you,” she said. “You have spent the last two years failing to do your job, which is to directly represent the popular will of your constituents.”
Amash responded by saying that his job is to “uphold the constitution.”
“Those are not mutually exclusive, do you realize that?” she replied. The woman then called Amash’s claims that Trump had obstructed justice as “baseless.”
The exchange lasted for about 5 minutes in the video of the town hall meeting:
The woman continued by saying that Amash calls for impeachment while knowing that impeachment would not happen. If it did, it would cause political upheaval and possible civil war, she said.
“You rest safe in the knowledge … that [Trump] won’t be removed from office. So you get to make the political grandstanding that raises your national profile,” she told Amash. “You are now a national household name. That’s called political capital. And you are hoping to launch your star bigger and brighter than District 3.”
“You just talked about how you did better in District 3 than Trump. Do you want to talk about how the last election you got the least amount of support that you’ve ever had because you haven’t supported the MAGA agenda?” she added.
“It’s your right to support whatever you want, but you also know you have no future in this district because of that, as a Republican. So you want to go bigger and brighter,” the woman pointed out.
She also questioned Amash about why he did not raise concerns about FISA abuses and the “year-long violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of Trump and his entire transition team,” if he so cared about the Constitution.
“Every phone call, every email, every personal conversation for a year was spied upon and recorded,” she said.
Amash responded to the woman saying that his tweets were “not really refutable.”
“Mueller himself issued a letter to Barr saying you are misleading the people,” Amash said. “The FISA only relates to one part of the investigation. The rest of that investigation does not relate to that FISA.”
Amash also said that “no one has fought harder against FISA abuse” than himself.
By FISA abuses, the woman was referring to the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to spy on the Trump campaign, without a valid reason to do so.
A declassified House intelligence committee memo revealed that the FBI and the Department of Justice had obtained a FISA warrant in October 2016 on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. It used the discredited Steele dossier, which was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), as the rationale to surveil Page.
Amash’s response to the woman may have been referring to his offer to amend Section 702 of FISA in January 2018. At the time, President Donald Trump authorized Section 702 for another six years and had stressed the importance of the program for national security.
Section 702 of FISA Warrant
Section 702 was part of amendments to FISA passed in 2008 under President George W. Bush. Under the section, the intelligence community had broad powers to collect internet and telephone data to spy on foreign nationals.
The 702 system was never designed to spy on Americans, but rather to safeguard U.S. national security. However, it became a powerful spying tool in the hands of the government, as The Epoch Times previously reported.
Procedures to protect Americans’ data collected under the program were weakened under President Barack Obama in a ruling in 2011 (pdf), allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to search through Americans’ data using their names. Previously, these types of searches, known as “queries using United States person identifiers,” were prohibited.
A FISA warrant is among the most intrusive ways to spy on an individual. It includes access to data collected under Section 702 of FISA. This data includes all digital communications (such as internet browsing histories, phone conversations, emails, chat logs, personal images, and GPS locations) that are transferred over the internet and captured by the NSA using so-called upstream data, which is all internet data traveling through key internet backbone carriers.
The FBI itself has access to 702 collected data collected by the NSA. A declassified top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court report released in April 2017 detailed numerous violations by the FBI in handling this data.
Problems with the FISA system received nationwide attention in February 2018 after the FISA warrant on Page was declassified.
The initial warrant, and its three subsequent renewals, could have been used to spy on anyone who was in contact with Page, including members of the Trump campaign. Under the so-called “two-hop” rule, the NSA can use the FISA warrant to spy on anyone with two layers of separation from Page himself. This means that both of the people Page was in contact with himself at the campaign could have had their communications surveilled, which is the first hop, as well as anyone who was in contact with the campaign officials, the second hop.
The Epoch Times staff Jasper Fakkert contributed to this report.