In the years she has been southwest Washington’s representative in Congress, Jaime Herrera Beutler has maintained a relatively low profile, but, last Friday, the congresswoman’s name became familiar all across the country when she was thrust into a key role in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
Herrera Beutler put out a statement echoing what she had already been telling local reporters and her constituents about why she had joined nine other House Republicans in voting to impeach Trump for his incitement of the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. She said she had learned from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that he had called Trump on Jan. 6 and asked him to intervene to stop the rioters who were, at that moment, swarming through the House and Senate chambers.
According to Herrera Beutler, Trump rebuffed McCarthy’s plea and, instead, the president mocked the desperate GOP leader, saying, “Well, Kevin, I guess that these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
This was a bombshell revelation and, for a short time, it looked as if Herrera Beutler would be called as a witness in the Senate trial. In the end, though, to avoid adding more days to the proceedings, it was decided that her statement would simply be added to the impeachment record. For her part, the congresswoman encouraged McCarthy and people she called “patriots” in the Trump White House to add to the factual account of Trump’s odious dereliction of duty, but no one rose up to stand with her.
Instead of being praised for her integrity and devotion to truth, Herrera Beutler has been attacked by the Trump loyalists who run the party in her district and at the state level. She has also provoked the ire of Georgia’s new QAnon congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who warned Herrera Beutler that Trump partisans have her in their sights.
Joining with the very few Republicans in the House and Senate with enough guts to condemn a president of their own party for his seditious acts, Herrera Beutler may be the bravest of them all. Some of the Republican senators who voted to convict Trump are buffered from criticism and retribution because they are about to retire or have just started a new six-year term or, like Mitt Romney, enjoy a particularly powerful status in their states. As a House member, Herrera Beutler has to run again in two years and is quite likely to be targeted by the right-wing zealots who wield outsized influence in GOP primaries.
The Republican Party needs many more people of principle like Herrera Beutler, yet it is members of her own party who will try to end her promising political career.
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