Two of Washington’s Republican members of Congress joined eight of their GOP colleagues in a display of principled courage by voting to impeach President Donald Trump.
Jaime Herrera Beutler, who represents southwest Washington, and Dan Newhouse, the congressman from the wide open spaces in the center of the state, could no longer defend the president after he whipped up a crowd of angry supporters and urged them to march to the U.S. Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes that would make Joe Biden president. Following Trump’s rhetorical lead, the crowd quickly turned into a mob that battled police – killing one officer and injuring many more – ransacked the heart of American democracy and unsuccessfully hunted for the vice president and Speaker of the House.
In a statement explaining his choice, Newhouse said, “A vote against this impeachment is a vote to validate the unacceptable violence we witnessed in our nation’s capital. It is also a vote to condone President Trump’s inaction. He did not strongly condemn the attack nor did he call in reinforcements when our officers were overwhelmed. Our country needs a leader, and President Trump failed to fulfill his oath of office.”
Herrera Beutler, in a powerful speech during the impeachment debate, said, “I am not choosing a side, I’m choosing truth. It’s the only way to defeat fear.”
Fear is a key factor in the decision by these two Republicans to buck their party and their president. They both are facing the anger of constituents back home and Newhouse, in particular, may be especially vulnerable to political retribution since his district is the most conservative in the state. But, beyond the political cost, they may be in physical danger. One of the other 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment has said he is buying body armor because he fears he and his family may be assaulted by some of Trump’s most militant, gun-toting followers.
Newhouse and Herrera Beutler are likely to be targeted, as well, which makes their choice to uphold the Constitution and our democratic system even more brave.
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