House GOP lawmaker unexpectedly shakes up Senate trial
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) unexpectedly was placed at the center of Saturday’s drama surrounding former President Donald Trump’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 McCarthy (R-Calif.) in which he told her Trump said the rioters were “more upset about the election” than McCarthy.
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 Curbelo (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.”
Another former colleague, former Rep. Denver Riggleman (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.
“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.”
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