EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — U.S. Rep. Justin Amash on Saturday found himself the subject of a Twitter blast from a senior member of President Donald Trump’s administration. Amash, a Republican from Grand Rapids, didn’t take it laying down and responded in kind.
It’s a war of words that has Washington talking.
Inflammatory tweets from the White House are nothing new, but this time it is against a sitting legislator from the president’s own party.
Just after noon Saturday, the Trump administration’s director of social media, Dan Scavino, slammed Amash and went as far as calling for him to be defeated in the primary.
“I think it shows a deep level of frustration in the White House,” Erika King, a political science professor at Grand Valley State University, told 24 Hour News 8 on Saturday evening.
Scavino made the arguable claim that Trump is bringing auto jobs back to Michigan and then called Amash a “big liability.”
An hour later, Amash took to Twitter to say that Trump and the establishment have merged. “Same old agenda; attack conservatives, libertarians and independent thinkers,” his tweet read.
“I think it was actually very clever of Amash to pin the Washington label on Trump, who has used it so successfully against his other opponents,” King said.
Amash is part of the Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House — a group of 36 of the most conservative members blamed for scuttling GOP leaders’ plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to a “Obamacare.”
Earlier this week, Trump himself posted on Twitter deriding the Freedom Caucus, saying it would derail the GOP’s agenda and urging specific members to “get on board.” But this time, Scavino actually called for a legislator to lose his seat.
That has Richard Painter, the former chief ethics attorney for President George W. Bush, saying Scavino violated the federal Hatch Act, which according to the Office of Special Counsel “limits certain political activities of federal employees,” and should be fired.
When asked by an Associated Press reporter if he had any response to ethics lawyers’ assertion that he had violated the Hatch Act, Scavino on Sunday tweeted, “What ‘ethics lawyers?’ The ones from the Obama Admin to want to take Trump down, or the Bush Admin who were #NeverTrump? No thanks!”
However, Scavino had made changes to his description on Twitter since the day previous, removing the mention of his role in the White House.
King, the GVSU professor, wonders if the White House understands how safe Amash is in his district — especially in the more rural areas, where he has fought off primary challengers before. He is now in his fourth term in the House.
In another tweet Saturday afternoon, Amash defiantly urged those who may want to challenge him in a primary to “bring it on.” That tweet included a link to where supporters could contribute to his campaign.
While Trump is notorious for his use of Twitter, Amash has been using social media to communicate directly to his constituents, often to the exclusion of traditional media, for six years.
“Perhaps Trump has met his Twitter match,” King said.
>>Inside woodtv.com: Amash talks Trump’s tweets
NBC News received a response from the White House saying that “the tweet speaks for itself.”
The spokesperson for Amash told 24 Hour News 8 the same thing about the congressman’s replies, but said he was not available for comment.
“Keep your eye on Twitter,” the spokesperson said.