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House GOP lawmaker unexpectedly shakes up Senate trial

Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerLawmakers urge Capitol Police release IG report on riot House Republicans who backed Trump impeachment warn Democrats on Iowa election challenge Hillicon Valley: Democrats push Facebook to 'take responsibility' for placement of gun accessory ads | Lawmakers introduce bill allowing Americans to take foreign hackers to court | Malala Yousafzai signs content deal with Apple MORE (R-Wash.) unexpectedly was placed at the center of Saturday's drama surrounding former President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' MORE's Senate impeachment trial on Saturday.

Herrera Beutler, one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump last month, released a statement Friday evening calling on “patriots" to come forward and share information on Trump’s involvement in sparking the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol. 

Most notably, she cited a conversation she had with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyTop academics slam Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act Boehner: 'There's a lot of leaders in the Republican Party' Pelosi on whether Gaetz should resign: 'That's up to the Republicans to take responsibility for that' MORE (R-Calif.) in which he told her Trump said the rioters were "more upset about the election" than McCarthy. 

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The remarks lit a firestorm with Democrats, who on Saturday pressed for a vote to call the Washington lawmaker as a witness. The Senate then voted to allow witnesses, a step that could have extended the trial for weeks if depositions were needed for Buetler and others.

In the end, a deal was reached to avoid calling witnesses but to include Buetler's account in the record of the trial, a move Democrats cast as a victory. Republicans argued Democrats had caved, and argument some observers on the left also made.

Herrera Beutler — a co-chair of the moderate Tuesday Group and the mother of three young children — has kept a relatively low profile since first being elected in 2010.

But those close to her have said they are not surprised by her decision to speak up in recent weeks as tensions have flared within the party over Trump’s role in the attack on the Capitol with his unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen. 

“She's always been a very honest,  sincere, and kind friend and colleague,” former Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloFormer GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' House GOP lawmaker unexpectedly shakes up Senate trial The Memo: Historic vote leaves Trump more isolated than ever MORE (R-Fla.) told The Hill. “And you can just tell that she's not willing to waste her time anymore with charades and lies and half-truths.”

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Another former colleague, former Rep. Denver RigglemanDenver RigglemanTrump the X-factor in Virginia governor race Ex-Trump press secretary criticized for stirring up QAnon on Twitter House GOP lawmaker unexpectedly shakes up Senate trial MORE (R-Va.), noted she has not been one to seek out attention, praising her for being willing to speak up at a time when others have been hesitant to do so. 

“She’s an honest, straight shooter and always valued service over any attention or fame,” he said. 

While she hasn’t sought the spotlight during her time in Congress, she also has not been shy in breaking party lines on key issues and speaking out when she feels necessary. 

She was one of 20 House GOP lawmakers that voted against the Republican health care overhaul in 2017. 

Herrera Beutler represents a swing district that leans Republican and which Trump won by single digits in both 2016 and 2020. She has acknowledged her impeachment vote could put her at risk for a primary challenge from the right. However, Herrera Beutler's chances of reelection are helped by Washington's jungle primary process. 

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“I’m not afraid of losing my job, but I am afraid that my country will fail," she said in explaining her vote on the floor last month. "I’m afraid patriots of this country have died in vain. I’m afraid my children won’t grow up in a free country. I’m afraid injustice will prevail.”

“But truth, truth sets us free from fear. Truth doesn’t guarantee bad things won’t happen, but it does promise to always prevail in the end.”