CNN "State of the Union with Jake Tapper" - Interview with Justin Amash



Congressman Amash, thanks so much. I want to get to your presidential bit in a second. But, first, I want to ask you about these protests that we've seen in Michigan. Hundreds of people descending on the Capitol on Thursday, some of them armed, which we should note is legal in Michigan. They're protesting the governor's stay-at-home order.

President Trump tweeted a message to your governor saying she should make a deal with the protesters. He has also said "liberate Michigan." What do you make of this all?

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (I-MI): Well, thanks for having me on, Jake.

Everyone has the right to protest. And I think the governor overreached in a lot of ways and that upset people in the state of Michigan. But when we protest, we have to do it in a way that is appropriate.

I totally denounce and condemn Nazi symbols that were used in some of the protests. I think it's a terrible idea to come into the Capitol with weapons, bearing weapons, knowing that it might be perceived as some form of intimidation towards legislators. So, I denounce those things.

But everyone has the right to protest. And we're a state that cares about our rights, cares about our freedoms, and we should work together with the governor.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the race. Former congressman, Republican presidential candidate Joe Walsh wrote in a "Washington Post" op-ed -- quote -- "Amash can't win. But he can siphon enough votes from the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, to hand the election to Trump. If Amash gets the Libertarian nomination and stays until the end, he could wind up going in the books as the guy who voted to impeach Trump one year, then tipped the election to him 11 months later" -- unquote.

What's your response to Congressman Walsh and to those in general who think that you will probably play a spoiler role especially in your home state of Michigan? AMASH: First, Joe voted for President Trump and I didn't in the last election. So there's that distinction. But the important thing is, we don't know how the additional candidate changes a race. It's too impossible to figure out. There are too many calculations involved.

So the most important thing is that we have a ballot, if you want to vote for someone, you vote for that person, if you don't want to vote (INAUDIBLE) votes from Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

TAPPER: You say that --

AMASH: Because I'm going to win this election. And we need to win this election for the American people.

TAPPER: You say that the people are dissatisfied with both parties. But I took a dive into some numbers. Just over 10 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of both President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in a poll that CNN did in March. It doesn't sound like there are a vast array of voters dissatisfied with both presidential choices.

AMASH: When you look at a lot of different polling out there, you'll see that a good portion of the country, probably a plurality, is pretty independent. And they are looking for another choice. They might prefer one candidate or the other, if you have a two-candidate field. But if you make it a three-candidate field and you have a compelling candidate, they would be delighted to go to that candidate.

And for too long we've had the same system where these two parties go at each other and Washington is totally dysfunction. That's why I left the Republican Party because there is a partisan death spiral. We need someone who is going to come in a president, respect our constitution, defend our rights and fix our representative system of government so that people will actually feel represented at home. And I know that millions of Americans want that.

TAPPER: No third party candidate in the modern two-party system has ever won the presidency.


That includes an incredibly popular former president, Teddy Roosevelt. What makes you different?

AMASH: I'm going to go out there and get the message out there about what's wrong in Washington.

I think we're at a cross roads. There is a difference over the last decade or so where people are more polarized, more upset. But actually most Americans are delightful people, are polite people, want to work with each other, respect each other, and these two factions that really control our political system are destroying our system and making it impossible for the rest of us to frankly enjoy our lives. So, I want to go there and represent these millions of people and I think we are at that cross roads wither this kind of change can happen. Things are not settled the way they were maybe 30, 40 years ago. We have a lot of uncertainty right now. And there's an opening for a libertarian party to become a major party in this country.

TAPPER: You suggested that universal payments should be made to individual Americans as part of the coronavirus response. That made me wonder, as president is your mind open to a universal basic income as Andrew Yang proposed when he was running for president on the Democratic side of the field?

AMASH: As president I'm open to all the ideas that the legislature might present. The job of a president is to execute the laws. So I want the legislative process to work. I want people in Congress to actually represent their constituents and then I'll make a decision about whether I want to sign a bill or not.

Right now what happens is you have a few leaders who go to the White House, they negotiate directly with the executive branch and then most members of Congress are left out of it and people at home are not represented. So I want to allow the system to work, let the people be represented, and if they can present a system that actually works and can address a lot of other shortcomings of having a UBI-- for example, if you put a UBI on top of a massive social welfare system, you might have other problems.

So, if they address those concerns I'm happy to look at it as president. But I want Congress to work for the people. And I think that's the most important part of this campaign.

Congress needs to work for the people. The executive branch needs to execute the laws. And right now if you have Donald Trump or Joe Biden as president, those things are not going to happen. You're going to have the same system you've had for the past decade.

TAPPER: All right. Congressman Justin Amash, thank you so much for joining us. We'll have you back to talk more about your presidential campaign and your platform as the campaign developments. Thank you so much, sir.

AMASH: Thanks so much, Jake.