US President Donald Trump today lashed out at Representative Justin Amash, calling him a "total lightweight" and "loser" one day after the Michigan Republican said Trump's conduct meets the threshold for impeachment.
Amash is the first Republican member of Congress to say the President "engaged in impeachable conduct."
In morning tweets, Trump said he was "never a fan" of Amash, "a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy."
The President argued that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election was "biased" but that it was "nevertheless strong on NO COLLUSION and, ultimately, NO OBSTRUCTION."
Mueller found 10 "episodes" of potential obstruction of justice by Trump but ultimately concluded that it was not his decision to determine whether the President broke the law.
Attorney-General William Barr said he had reviewed the evidence and found it insufficient to support an obstruction charge.
In the report, Mueller's team also wrote that while the investigation established that the Trump campaign "expected it would benefit electorally from" information stolen in Russia-backed efforts, it "did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian Government in its election interference activities."
Trump added today:, "Anyway, how do you Obstruct when there is no crime and, in fact, the crimes were committed by the other side?"
"Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!" he said.
Amash's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Republican leaders joined Trump in criticising Amash. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called Amash's comments "very disturbing," arguing that the lawmaker is "not a criminal attorney. He's never met Mueller. He's never met Barr."
"Those who know Justin Amash, this is exactly what he wants. He wants to have attention," McCarthy said on Fox News.
McCarthy also took aim at Amash's record as a lawmaker. "I think he's only asked one question in all the committees he's been in," McCarthy said. "He votes more with (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi than he ever votes with me."
During one February hearing alone, Amash asked several questions of former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen, including, "What is the truth President Trump is most afraid of people knowing?"
And despite McCarthy's claim about Amash's voting record, the Michigan Republican has a 68 per cent conservative rating, according to 2015 rankings by the Almanac of American Politics.
Senator Mitt Romney said that he respects Amash and believes he made a "courageous statement" about his views on impeachment. But Romney noted that he had come to a different conclusion.
"As I read the report, I was troubled by it," he said on CNN. "It was very disappointing, for a number of reasons. But it did not suggest to me that this was time to call for impeachment."
Romney added that "when there's not an underlying crime, I think it's difficult to put together an effective case to prosecute for those crimes."
Some Democrats pointed to the Amash pronouncement as meeting one of the main conditions that Pelosi set for beginning impeachment proceedings - her mandate that some Republicans support such a step.
"There is now bipartisan support," Representative Pramila Jayapal said on CNN.
Pelosi has been openly opposed to starting impeachment proceedings because public sentiment has been against it, and until yesterday, no Republican in Congress had indicated anything close to support for removing Trump from office.
"Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he's just not worth it," Pelosi told the Washington Post in a March interview, her most detailed comments on impeachment.