U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was bounced in the August primary for trying to hold ex-President Donald Trump accountable for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters who tried to block the certification of Joe Biden’s win.

In voting for impeachment — one of just 10 House Republicans to do so — Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, said Trump “incited a riot” and let hours pass before issuing a “pathetic” denouncement of the violence, violating his oath of office.

In just a couple of months, Herrera Beutler’s potential successor, Joe Kent, could arrive in Congress with a jarringly revisionist agenda regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection and the ongoing congressional investigation into those responsible for it.

Kent, a retired Special Forces combat veteran endorsed by Trump, has vowed to flip the Jan. 6 investigation on its head if he wins the Nov. 8 election for Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District against Democrat and small-business owner Marie Gluesenkamp Perez.

If he has his way, a GOP-led House next year would turn its gaze away from Trump and his allies who plotted to overturn the 2020 election. Instead, Kent wants to investigate the FBI, searching for evidence the agency secretly instigated the Jan. 6 attack.

“There is a lot there that does look like an intelligence operation,” he said in a debate.


Kent has repeatedly called people charged with crimes in the Jan. 6 attack “political prisoners.” He has threatened to defund the FBI and reject the Justice Department budget if it includes money for Jan. 6-related prosecutions. Last year, he was one of only two congressional candidates to speak at a poorly attended “Justice for J6” rally in Washington, D.C., seeking to drum up support for the criminal defendants.

Kent’s chief campaign guru, political consultant Matt Braynard, who organized that rally, also runs Look Ahead America, an organization that has aired a series of sympathetic podcast interviews with Jan. 6 defendants, including one man accused of attacking police with a baseball bat and another charged with seditious conspiracy. He’s also launched an initiative to find them jobs.

In a text message this week, Braynard said he was too busy to discuss his Jan. 6 efforts. He also declined to make Kent available for a phone interview, saying “voters don’t care about that issue, only dem activists in the media … try something that people care about, inflation, crime, energy, parental rights, etc.”

But throughout his campaign, Kent has had plenty to say about the Jan. 6 attack, as well as the 2020 election, which he still claims Trump won. (He was a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey, which claimed without evidence that 400,000 votes were flipped, added or removed in the 2020 election in Washington. The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge in September.)

At first, as the Jan. 6, 2021, attack unfolded, Kent appeared to be disturbed by the spectacle of a mob assaulting Capitol police and chanting for Vice President Mike Pence to be hanged.

He condemned the violence in a tweet that day as “dangerous and foolish,” saying it undermined the efforts of Republican members of Congress who were objecting to Biden’s win inside the Capitol.


“The movement that Trump gave a voice to is not going away because of the actions of a criminal mob. Violence is wrong & foolish,” he added the day after the attack.

But since then, Kent has sought to downplay the Jan. 6 attack, joining a national trend among many Republicans, including members of Congress who were seen fleeing or hiding in the Capitol as protesters banged on doors and smashed windows.

Kent has been a regular guest on far-right media outlets pushing disinformation about the 2020 election and Jan. 6, including former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast, Infowars and Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show.

As the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack began televised public hearings this year, Kent was featured by Carlson as a part of Fox’s counterprogramming. Appearing on Carlson’s show on June 9, Kent slammed the committee’s hearings as “a very sham trial Soviet kangaroo court” and argued Trump did not bear responsibility.

“No it’s not a Trump thing … the only reason that people were there on that day of Jan. 6 is that the American people, a vast majority of them, did not feel like their voices were heard at the ballot box. And therefore things started to get a little bit dicey,” Kent said.

He vowed aggressive pushback if Republicans win a majority in the midterms.


“We are going to go back, we are going to look at the election of 2020. We are going to have a full committee. We are going to keep the Jan. 6 committee going, we’re going to disclose to the American people once and for all what actually happened. Release all the footage, disclose the government’s involvement.”

Kent has repeatedly shared articles from websites promoting the conspiracy theory that a Trump supporter named Ray Epps, who was taped urging people to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6, was actually a government agent who helped instigate the attack. Epps, who was initially on an FBI wanted list, did not enter the Capitol and testified to the Jan. 6 committee that he was not a government agent or asset. He told The New York Times his life has been upended by threats over the baseless claims, causing him to leave his home in Arizona and relocate to an undisclosed location in the Rocky Mountains.

Republican leaders have indicated they will launch investigations into the Biden administration next year, including into the FBI.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who is likely to chair the House Judiciary Committee if Republicans take control of the House, has put the FBI on notice he intends to launch several probes of the agency.

Kent and other Trump loyalists’ focus on trying to rewrite the Jan. 6 narrative drew harsh criticism from some who have closely tracked the congressional investigation and the continuing threats to democracy from candidates who have said they may not accept future election results.

“The notion that he is going to go to Congress and perpetuate these kinds of falsehoods and actually squander precious congressional time attempting to prove this dangerous claim that has already led to so much violence and bloodshed in that very building is profoundly disturbing,” said Norman Eisen, a former White House ethics czar and co-author of a Brookings Institution report on whether Trump should face criminal charges for conspiring to overturn the 2020 election.


“These are made-up frauds that are there to avoid laying responsibility at the door of Trump and denial of elections that he leads. It probably is the most dangerous movement of its kind within America since the end of Jim Crow,” Eisen added.

The Western States Center, a Portland-based nonprofit that tracks right-wing extremism, this week flagged Kent at the top of its list of a dozen “anti-democracy actors and election deniers” on the Nov. 8 ballot in the West.

“When you have a candidate who is dismissing Jan. 6 as a false flag operation, that sends a green light to the anti-democracy groups that were involved,” said Stephen Piggott, a program analyst for the group.

More than 900 people have been charged with crimes ranging from entering a restricted area to assaulting police officers and seditious conspiracy, according to the Department of Justice. Thirteen Washington residents have been charged. As of August, about 350 defendants had pleaded guilty and about 200 had been sentenced, with many facing little to no prison time on misdemeanor counts, while several convicted of more serious offenses received four or more years, according to The New York Times.

In the congressional race, Kent is seen as a favorite to win in the Republican-leaning district that backed Trump by about 4 percentage points in 2020. However, Kent’s views have led Democrats to see a potential opportunity to pull off an upset and flip a district in a year when the party is largely playing defense.

A super PAC affiliated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently spent $322,000 on an ad supporting Gluesenkamp Perez and blasting Kent for his support of a national abortion ban and his statements about the Capitol rioters, Axios reported.


Kent has unapologetically aligned himself with the far-right “America First” movement loyal to Trump, that also includes Republican U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Paul Gosar of Texas and Matt Gaetz of Florida.

Over the course of the campaign, he has slammed establishment Republican figures as much as Democrats, criticizing the state Republican Party and vowing to oppose House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House.

But Kent has made nice in recent days, as McCarthy stopped by Southwest Washington for a fundraiser with Kent this week, underscoring party unity in the race to keep the 3rd District seat in Republican hands.

“Thank you to @GOPLeader for coming to our fundraiser today! 8 days from today we take back the house & our nation!” Kent tweeted along with a photo of him with McCarthy, standing side-by-side.

For more information about voting, ballot drop boxes, accessible voting and online ballots, contact your county elections office. Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 8, or put in a drop box or returned in person to your county elections department by 8 p.m. that day. Be sure to sign the ballot envelope.

For more information on your ballot, in any county, go to: myvote.wa.gov

How will your ballot be counted?