Trump campaign files libel suit against New York Times over Russia story

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign said on Wednesday it filed a libel suit against the New York Times accusing the newspaper of intentionally publishing a false opinion article related to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

In an escalation of the Republican president’s long-running battle with the news media, campaign officials said the lawsuit was being filed in New York State Supreme Court, the state’s trial-level court.

A statement from the campaign said the aim of the litigation was to “hold the news organization accountable for intentionally publishing false statements against President Trump’s campaign.”

The lawsuit relates to a March 27, 2019, opinion article written by Max Frankel, who served as executive editor of the Times from 1986 to 1994.

The campaign attached to a news release a draft copy of the suit accusing the newspaper of “extreme bias against (the campaign) and animosity” and cited what it called the Times’ “exuberance to improperly influence the presidential election in November 2020.” Trump is seeking re-election on Nov. 3.

The Times did not have an immediate comment.

The opinion piece was headlined, “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo” with a subhead adding, “The campaign and the Kremlin had an overarching deal: help beat Hillary Clinton for a new pro-Russian foreign policy.” Quid pro quo is a Latin term meaning a favor in exchange for a favor.

The lawsuit originated with the Trump re-election campaign, but Trump himself has contended the Times has at times been biased against him.

Trump often refers to various news media outlets as “fake news” and has called elements of the U.S. news media “the enemy of the American people.”

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller documented Moscow’s campaign of hacking and social media propaganda to boost Trump’s 2016 candidacy and harm his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

It documented numerous contacts between people associated between Trump’s campaign and Russians. Mueller found insufficient evidence to show a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s team and Russia but did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice related to the investigation.

In the opinion piece, Frankel stated, “Collusion – or a lack of it – turns out to have been the rhetorical trap that ensnared President Trump’s pursuers.”

Frankel added, “There was no need for detailed electoral collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy because they had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration’s burdensome economic sanctions. The Trumpites knew about the quid and held out the prospect of the quo.”

“Today the President’s re-election campaign filed suit against the New York Times for falsely stating the Campaign had an ‘overarching deal’ with ‘Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy’ to ‘help the campaign against Hillary Clinton’ in exchange for ‘a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from … economic sanctions,’” said Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.

“The statements were and are 100 percent false and defamatory. The complaint alleges The Times was aware of the falsity at the time it published them, but did so for the intentional purpose of hurting the campaign, while misleading its own readers in the process,” Ellis said.

In a copy of the lawsuit provided by his re-election team, the campaign stated, “The Times was well aware when it published these statements that they were not true.”

[Reuters]

Trump quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson, Suggesting He’s a ‘King’

The tweets of Donald J. Trump are sometimes inane, sometimes scary, and sometimes baffling. On Saturday he made two that are the latter. Only a few days after inexplicably sharing a clip from Curb Your Enthusiasm that clearly mocked his supporters, the president decided to post something even more Mad Libs-weird: He quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Technically he was quoting someone else quoting Emerson: a piece from his dreaded New York Times that dropped back in early February. The headline was, alas, not exactly flattering: “While Stained in History, Trump Will Emerge From Trial Triumphant and Unshackled.” The article itself, by Peter Baker, wasn’t complimentary about the president’s newfound confidence after getting impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate. Perhaps Trump didn’t read the whole thing. But he did single out one passage.

“Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to foresee the lesson of the Senate Impeachment Trial of President Trump. ‘When you strike at the King, Emerson famously said, “you must kill him.’ Mr. Trump’s foes struck at him but did not take him down,” the tweet read. “A triumphant Mr.Trump emerges from the biggest test of his presidency emboldened, ready to claim exoneration, and take his case of grievance, persecution and resentment to the campaign trail.” He then cited Baker, at-ed the NYT, and added one of his greatest go-tos: “The Greatest Witch Hunt in American History!

Trump’s out-of-context (but still far from positive) tweeting read as a boast, even if he was quoting a publication he routinely demonizes. The fact that the president was quoting someone quoting Emerson truly weirded some people out.

Others were horrified. After all, he was essentially referring to himself as a king, not a president.

Some pointed out that Trump had been reduced to quoting the “failing” (though actually thriving) New York Times.

[Uproxx]

Trump congratulates Barr for ‘taking charge’ of Stone case

President Donald Trump praised Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday for “taking charge” of the federal case against Roger Stone — a maneuver that has provoked outrage from congressional Democrats and appeared to prompt the withdrawal of four government prosecutors.

“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!”

A spokesperson for the Justice Department did not immediately return a request for comment on the president’s social media post.

Trump’s tweet comes amid escalating tensions at the Justice Department, which ramped up Tuesday after the department backed off a previous sentencing recommendation for Stone, a longtime informal political adviser to Trump.

Federal prosecutors had urged Monday that Stone be sent to prison for seven to nine years for impeding congressional and FBI investigations into connections between the Russian government and Trump’s 2016 campaign.

But after the president blasted that proposal Tuesday as a “horrible and very unfair situation,” the Justice Department submitted a revised filing that offered no specific term for Stone’s sentence and stated that the prosecutors’ recommendation “could be considered excessive and unwarranted.”

Trump also took shots Tuesday targeting former special counsel Robert Mueller’s squad of federal prosecutors — two of whom served on Stone’s prosecution team — as well as U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who was scheduled to sentence Stone and has overseen several other Mueller-related cases.

By the end of the day, the quartet of attorneys who had shepherded Stone’s prosecution had either resigned or notified the court that they were stepping off the case. Trump reprised his attack on their initial sentencing filing Wednesday, suggesting it was perhaps the product of “Rogue prosecutors.”

“Two months in jail for a Swamp Creature, yet 9 years recommended for Roger Stone (who was not even working for the Trump Campaign),” the president tweeted, making apparent reference to a former Senate Intelligence Committee aide who pleaded guilty in 2018 for lying to the FBI. “Gee, that sounds very fair! Rogue prosecutors maybe? The Swamp!”

Trump claimed Tuesday that he had not asked the Justice Department to change the sentencing recommendation, and Hogan Gidley, the White House’s principal deputy press secretary, repeated that denial Wednesday — asserting that neither the president nor anyone at the White House pressured the attorney general or other department officials to reduce Stone’s sentence.

“Unequivocally no,” he told Fox News, adding that the president “did not interfere here with anything.”

“Look, he’s the chief law enforcement officer. He has the right to do it. He just didn’t,” Gidley said of Trump. “He didn’t make any comment — didn’t have a conversation, I should say, rather, with the attorney general, and that’s just ludicrous. It’s just another scandal that the Democrats are trying to push forward.”

A senior Justice Department official said Tuesday that the decision to alter the prosecutors’ filing was unrelated to the president’s venting on social media and came before Trump issued his critical tweet. Instead, the official said, department leaders were “shocked” by the proposal, which “was not the recommendation that had been briefed to the department.”

Still, Democratic lawmakers quickly denounced the department’s intervention in the Stone case, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) calling Tuesday for an investigation by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz into the reversal.

Democrats’ condemnation continued Wednesday, as Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) demanded Barr’s resignation.

“I think that Attorney General Barr has no choice but to follow these dedicated prosecutors out the door,” he told MSNBC. “Because he’s acting simply as a henchman — a political operative — of the president, who’s always wanted the attorney general of the United States to be his Roy Cohn, his personal attorney.”

Blumenthal, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, also said he had not heard back from that panel’s leader, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), regarding his request to probe the Justice Department’s actions.

Like Schumer, Blumenthal asked for Horowitz “to conduct an immediate, intensive investigation — because this kind of political interference is exactly the abuse of power, the dictatorial interference that we all ought to resist.”

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), another member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also had harsh words for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.

“Bill Barr is demonstrating that he is not the attorney general for the people of the United States,” he told CNN. “He swore allegiance to the Constitution, not to one president, and I suspect it’s a tough day for a lot of career prosecutors in the U.S. Department of Justice. This is a critical moment for rule of law in our country.”

[Politico]

Trump Wants the Government to Investigate Obama’s Netflix Deal

President Donald Trump kicked off his week with one of his favorite hobbies: calling for the investigation of his perceived political enemies.

Trump fired off tweets Monday suggesting that former President Barack Obama should be investigated for getting a production deal with Netflix.

“House Judiciary has given up on the Mueller Report, sadly for them after two years and $40,000,000 spent – ZERO COLLUSION, ZERO OBSTRUCTION. So they say, OK, lets look at everything else, and all of the deals that “Trump” has done over his lifetime,” Trump posted.

“But it doesn’t work that way. I have a better idea,” he added. “Look at the Obama Book Deal, or the ridiculous Netflix deal. Then look at all the deals made by the Dems in Congress, the ‘Congressional Slush Fund,’ and lastly the IG Reports. Take a look at them. Those investigations would be over FAST!”

It’s not clear why Trump might think Obama’s post-presidency ventures are worth investigating. But they have proven lucrative: The former president and former first lady Michelle Obama inked the reportedly “high-8-figure” deal with Netflix and a joint book deal reportedly worth $65 million. The Obamas have launched a number of projects with Netflix already, including a documentary about a factory opening in Ohio and a drama about post-WWII New York.

Monday wasn’t the first time Trump got hung up on investigating the money the Obamas have made since they left the White House.

“We want to find out what happened with the last Democrat president,” Trump told reporters in July. “Let’s look into Obama the way they’ve looked at me. From Day 1, they’ve looked into everything that we’ve done. They could look into the book deal that President Obama made. Let’s subpoena all of his records.”

Contrary to Trump’s claim, the House Judiciary Committee hasn’t given up on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Just last week, it voted to expand its impeachment investigation and moved to obtain former special counsel Robert Mueller’s most sensitive materials, including evidence and testimony from a grand jury.

[Vice]

Trump suggests watchdog report shows Mueller probe was ‘illegal’

President Trump on Tuesday suggested without evidence that last week’s Justice Department inspector general (IG) report criticizing former FBI Director James Comey over his handling of official memos proved that the special counsel’s Russia investigation was “illegal.” 

Trump also falsely claimed that Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference showed there was “no obstruction,” despite the special counsel not reaching a conclusion either way on whether the president obstructed the investigation.

“Based on the IG Report, the whole Witch Hunt against me and my administration was a giant and illegal SCAM,” Trump tweeted, using his common moniker for the Mueller investigation. 

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report on Thursday saying that Comey violated FBI policies and his employment agreement by mishandling memos detailing his conversations with Trump.

Comey gave one of the memos, which contained information about the ongoing investigation into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, to a friend with instructions for him to leak it to a journalist. Comey has defended his decision, saying he did it in part to trigger the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation.

The inspector general issued a scathing rebuke of Comey’s handling of sensitive investigative information.

“By not safeguarding sensitive information obtained during the course of his FBI employment, and by using it to create public pressure for official action, Comey set a dangerous example for the over 35,000 current FBI employees — and the many thousands more former FBI employees — who similarly have access to or knowledge of non-public information,” the inspector general wrote. 

Horowitz did not, however, recommend whether Comey should face charges, and Attorney General William Barr decided against prosecuting him for any criminal wrongdoing.

The report by the inspector general, who is currently investigating other aspects of the Russia probe, did not include any criticisms of the Mueller investigation itself.

After Comey leaked the memo about the February Flynn conversation, the Justice Department appointed Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russia’s election interference and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to interfere in the election.

Mueller concluded the investigation in March without finding evidence to charge associates of the campaign in a broader conspiracy with Russia. Mueller also did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed the probe, but Barr has since determined the evidence to be insufficient to accuse the president of criminal wrongdoing. 

House Democrats have sought to pick up threads from Mueller for further investigation, including the House Judiciary Committee, which launched a sprawling investigation into alleged obstruction and abuses of power by Trump earlier this year. The White House has accused Democrats of attempting a “do-over” of the special counsel’s probe.

[The Hill]

Trump bashes Mueller for ‘ineptitude,’ slams ‘sick’ Democrats backing impeachment

President Trump on Saturday criticized renewed calls for impeachment among some Democrats following former special counsel Robert Mueller‘s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee this week. 

“The Dems are now coming out of shock from the terrible Mueller performance, and are starting to spin impeachment all over again,” Trump tweeted. “How sick & disgusting and bad for our Country are they. What they are doing is so wrong, but they do it anyway. Dems have become the do nothing Party!”

The president also bashed Mueller’s “display of ineptitude & incompetence.”

After the former special counsel’s Wednesday testimony, some Democrats joined calls for an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and others doubled down on past calls.

Democratic Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (Del.), Katherine Clark (Mass.), Peter DeFazio (Ore.), John Garamendi (Calif.), Annie Kuster (N.H.), Mike Levin (Calif.) and Lori Trahan (Mass.) signaled their support for impeachment after the testimony. A total of 99 House Democrats have indicated support for an inquiry. 

Other Democrats, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, continued to not push for an inquiry

“Whatever decision we make in that regard would have to be done with our strongest possible hand, and we still have some outstanding matters in the courts,” Pelosi said at a press conference after the hearing. 

Mueller in his testimony reiterated that his team did not “reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime” but said that Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice after he leaves office. 

[The Hill]

Trump Quotes Fox & Friends Celebration: Mueller Hearing ‘Changed Everything’ … Trump ‘Wins’

President Donald Trump and Fox & Friends celebrated together on Thursday morning in response to Robert Mueller’s less-than-stellar appearance before Congress.

Mueller drew headlines when he stated that his special counsel report showed how Trump welcomed Russian election interference in 2016, that the president was not exonerated on obstruction of justice, and that Trump could be charged with a crime once he’s out of office. However, the special counsel’s constant referrals to his written words, inability to answer certain questions, and shaky performance dashed expectations that he would breathe life into an impeachment groundswell.

As Fox & Friends recapped the hearings, Ainsley Earhardt said it was “clear he was not in charge of his investigation” and his testimony “changed nothing.” Brian Kilmeadefollowed up by remarking on the setbacks to the possibility of impeachment, and Steve Doocyremarked that Mueller “did not know what was in his own report.”

Trump was clearly watching this morning, because he quote-tweeted the trio’s 6 a.m. opening segment, during which Earhardt said, “Yesterday changed everything, it really did clear the President. He wins.”

The curvy couch continued to break down the “disaster” of a hearing and call it “a great day for the president,” Kilmeade especially tore into Mueller for punting on many of the questions that came his way. When he arrived at the obstruction of justice matter, he said “I think you could sum up the obstruction part of the Mueller report: Trump being Trump.”

“Even if you did not rob the bank, if they are going to investigate you for robbing the bank, you got to wonder why are they questioning everyone around me for something I didn’t do? What does Trump do? He fights you every step of the way…If you say something wrong, he will call you out, and that’s what this.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Attacks Multiple Reporters During Presser: ‘You’re Untruthful!’ ‘You’re One of the WORST!’

President Donald Trump lashed out at reporters for their questions about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’shearing and if he was concerned about indictment if he leaves office in 2021.

“And when you saw Robert Mueller’s statement, the earlier statement and then he did a recap, he did a correction later on in the afternoon and you know what that correction was and you still ask the question. You know why? Because you’re fake news, you’re one of the worst.” Trump said Wednesday afternoon.

“Again, you’re fake news and you’re right at the top of the list also. Let me just tell you, go back to what — it is not what he said. Read his correction,” Trump said to another reporter.

When the reporter tried to correct Trump, the president cut him off and said “read his correction. If you read his correction, you’ll find out. That is why people don’t deal with you, because you’re not an honest reporter.”

PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor and Playboy magazine White House reporter Brian Karem said on Twitter they were singled out by the president.

Alcindor was asking Trump about Mueller testifying that he found the president’s written answers “generally” untruthful. Trump instead rejected the premise of the question and called Alcindor “untruthful.”

“You’re untruthful when you ask that question. When you ask that question, you’re untruthful. And you know who else is untruthful? You know who else is untruthful? His aides,” Trump said.

[Mediaite]

Trump administration invokes privilege again, blocks intel committee from classified Mueller docs

The Trump administration has been quietly engaged in an escalating tug-of-war with the House and Senate intelligence committees over sensitive documents from the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, the latest in a series of attempts to stymie Congress, including with claims of executive privilege, sources have told ABC News.

“The scope of confidentiality interests being asserted by the executive branch is breathtaking,” said Andrew M. Wright, an expert on executive privilege who served as a congressional investigator and as a White House attorney in two Democratic administrations. As is “the lack of accommodation and compromise,” he added.

Members of the Senate intelligence committee sent a letter in mid-April to the CIA and other covert agencies asking them to share copies of all the materials they had provided to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team over the course of their 22-month investigation, according to sources familiar with the request. The requests were referred by the intelligence agencies to the Department of Justice, which has custody of all of the records gathered as part of the Mueller probe.

Though Mueller’s report does not discuss the classified intelligence gathered during the investigation, congressional investigators believe the team was given access to a range of materials that could include intercepts, secretive source interviews, and material shared by the spy agencies of other foreign governments.

More than three months later, the attorney general’s office has still not produced them. Sources told ABC News that Justice Department officials have argued that they are, for now, shielded by the same blanket privilege they initially asserted in response to a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee for the entire trove of special counsel records.

Trump administration attorneys declined to comment on the matter, and the Department of Justice has not responded to questions. Experts said the response was part of a pattern.

A spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee said the DOJ did produce a subset of underlying documents related to the special counsel’s investigation to their members for review, “although it has failed in recent weeks, despite repeated requests, to produce key materials central to the Committee’s oversight work.”

The House committee said Justice Department lawyers did not invoke privilege with them when refusing the requests. “None would be warranted given the Committee’s jurisdiction,” a committee spokesman said. “The Committee remains engaged with DOJ to ensure it complies fully and completely with the Committee’s duly authorized subpoena.”

Experts have been monitoring the conflict between branches as it has escalated.

“The way the administration has been using executive privilege has been extraordinary,” said Steven Schwinn, a professor at the John Marshall Law School and a co-founder and co-editor of the Constitutional Law Prof Blog. “It’s a level of non-cooperation with Congress that has been striking. We’ve never seen it to this degree.”

Congress and the White House have been locked in a range of disputes over records and testimony that the administration has withheld – covering a variety of subjects that includes the president’s personal finances, his tax returns and the administration’s policy on the census. Just Wednesday, the Democratic-controlled House voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt over their refusal to produce documents concerning the addition of a citizenship question to the census.

In May, the Trump administration invoked executive privilege for the first time in response to the request from Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, for the un-redacted Mueller report and the entire trove of investigative documents.

“Faced with Chairman Nadler’s blatant abuse of power, and at the attorney general’s request, the president has no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege,” then-White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said at the time.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at the time that members of Congress were exercising their proper authority to review the Mueller material on behalf of their constituents.

“This is not about Congress or any committee of Congress,” Pelosi told ABC News at the time. “It’s about the American people and their right to know and their election that is at stake and that a foreign government intervened in our election and the president thinks it is a laughing matter.”

This latest stalemate – over sensitive materials gathered in connection with the 2016 elections — has frustrated leaders on the intelligence committees, sources told ABC News. In part, that is because the committees have sweeping oversight powers when it comes to the secretive agencies. The National Security Act says “congressional intelligence committees [must] be kept fully and currently informed of all intelligence activities.”

The congressional committees have invoked such powers during a range of sensitive probes. Congress fought for and received intelligence documents during its investigation into the Iran-Contra affair during the late 1980s. And more recently, the senate prevailed during a review of allegations that the agencies engaged in torture during the interrogation of terror suspects. After a protracted fight, the senate received the documents and drafted its scathing report.

One Trump administration source familiar with the matter told ABC News that the stand-off is temporary – with the response to the intelligence committee on hold until the Department of Justice finishes releasing Mueller-related materials to the Judiciary Committee.

In early June, the DOJ and House Judiciary Committee reached an agreement allowing committee members access to some of the documents that underpinned Mueller’s investigation of possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. Members and some committee staff were also allowed to see a less-redacted version of the full Mueller report, with the exception of grand jury material that was included.

The DOJ is in the midst of reviewing the special counsel documents, and under an agreement with the Judiciary Committee, has pledged to turn over documents they believe do not run afoul of their assertions of privilege.

As the review process for the House Judiciary Committee grinds forward, an administration official familiar with the effort said that may free up some of the documents in the subset of materials requested by the intelligence committees. But, the source said, the intelligence request will have to wait until the negotiations with Judiciary are resolved.

Congressional sources told ABC News they believe Justice Department officials have no grounds to hold the intelligence records, and are merely stalling.

Experts said the stand-offs between branches of government may ultimately force the third branch of government – the judiciary – to get involved.

“A lot of it is going to get resolved in court,” said Wright, the expert on executive privilege who served in two Democratic administrations. “But some may only get resolved at the ballot box.”

[ABC News]

Trump calls Justin Amash ‘loser’ after GOP lawmaker Quit the Party Saying president’s conduct was ‘impeachable’

Justin Amash, the only congressional Republican who has publicly called to impeach President Donald Trump, says he is leaving the GOP, a move that drew a swift rebuke from the president Thursday.

“Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party. No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us,” the five-term Michigan lawmaker wrote in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post on Thursday morning.

Trump responded hours later on Twitter: “Great news for the Republican Party as one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress is “quitting” the Party. No Collusion, No Obstruction! Knew he couldn’t get the nomination to run again in the Great State of Michigan. Already being challenged for his seat. A total loser!”

Amash, a 39-year-old libertarian elected in 2010, faced two primary challenges and Trump’s lash on Twitter after saying the president committed impeachable offenses May 18. He also said Attorney General William Barr had “deliberately misrepresented” special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and allegations the president sought to obstruct the investigation.

Trump has called Amash “a total lightweight” and “a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!” on social media.

Donald Trump Jr. and Amash feuded on Twitter on June 13 after the president’s son teased a campaign appearance for an Amash primary challenger, state legislator Jim Lower, in Michigan’s 3rd District.

Amash on June 10 quit the conservative House Freedom Caucus, of which he was a founding member. The group, which has frequently allied with the president, uniformly opposed Amash’s impeachment stance. Trump has discussed the idea of a primary challenge to Amash with North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, a Freedom Caucus co-founder, and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, a former Michigan GOP leader and Trump ally.

In light of Amash’s move to ditch the party, the RNCC will almost certainly support a primary challenger since it only supports Republicans running for office. Amash has told friends and allies in Congress that he didn’t plan on running for president as a libertarian, POLITICO Playbook reported.

In the op-ed, published on the Fourth of July ahead of the president’s “Salute to America” on the Mall but which doesn’t mention the president by name, Amash stresses his long support for the GOP as the child of Republican-supporting immigrants before criticizing the partisanship of modern-day politics.

“In recent years, though, I’ve become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it. The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.”

He adds: “These are consequences of a mind-set among the political class that loyalty to party is more important than serving the American people or protecting our governing institutions. The parties value winning for its own sake, and at whatever cost. Instead of acting as an independent branch of government and serving as a check on the executive branch, congressional leaders of both parties expect the House and Senate to act in obedience or opposition to the president and their colleagues on a partisan basis.”

Amash encouraged others to follow his lead in becoming an independent. “Modern politics is trapped in a partisan death spiral, but there is an escape,” he wrote. He had not previously ruled out a run as an independent.

Six hours before his op-ed was published, Amash tweeted a picture of the Declaration of Independence, writing: “Happy Birthday, America!”

On Thursday morning, he tweeted a link to his op-ed, adding: “Today, I’m declaring my independence.”

Trump on Thursday traveled by motorcade to Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, arriving at 9:07 a.m., according to pool reports.

[Politico]

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