Southwest Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler on Wednesday said the entire process to impeach President Donald Trump was flawed, and therefore the results were flawed.
U.S. Senators Wednesday afternoon voted to acquit Trump on two impeachment charges: obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.
Rep. Herrera Beutler, a Battle Ground Republican, is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and therefore did not vote Wednesday. She previously voted against both articles of impeachment when they were before the House, saying Democrats rushed the investigation and relied on secondhand testimony.
She reiterated that opinion Wednesday and said House Democrats should have enforced their subpoenas for firsthand witnesses.
“The House Democratic leadership should have pumped the brakes and taken the time to ask the tough questions and compel testimony from firsthand sources — full stop — so that we aren’t questioning the results,” Herrera Beutler said. “There are real questions Americans have about this and they didn’t get answered, so I don’t think we can trust the results.”
The impeachment trial centered on whether the president withheld nearly $400 million in military assistance in exchange for the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
The president ordered administration officials not to testify in the investigation, leading to the obstruction of justice impeachment charge.
Some Republicans, particularly Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, said there is enough evidence to prove that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden. Alexander said those actions, however, do not meet “the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense.” In addition, a leaked copy of an unreleased book by former National Security Adviser John Bolton reportedly claims Trump directly linked the Ukrainian aid in exchange for an investigation.
Nonetheless, Herrera Beutler said Democrats did not effectively prove that the president withheld funds for the Ukrainian government in a pro quid quo agreement, which “made it clear to me a ‘No’ vote was the right choice.”
“They had to prove it. They didn’t even come close,” she added. “Do I think we all still have questions? Absolutely. But they totally forewent the opportunity to get those questions answered in a way that was fair-minded.”
Carolyn Long, a Democrat challenging Herrera Beutler this year, did not comment Wednesday because she was teaching at Washington State University in Vancouver, where she is a political science instructor, according to a campaign spokeswoman.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, said in a statement Wednesday that the vote was about both President Trump and every future president. She voted to convict Trump on both articles of impeachment.
“I am now on the record, representing millions of people in my home state of Washington, in saying it is unacceptable for a president, now or ever, to ask a foreign country to interfere in our election for their own benefit,” Murray said in the statement. “I want every American to know my strong feeling is that we, the people, elect our presidents, they owe their office to the American people, and Americans must be their priority. I am grateful to every senator who stood up for this fundamental American principle today.”
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, a Democrat from Northwest Oregon, said she was “deeply disappointed” in the Senate, saying “too many failed to put country before party.”
“President Trump has failed the American people,” Bonamici said in her statement. “He repeatedly put his own self-interest before our country’s national security and the needs of our communities. Trump is impeached by the House forever, a majority of the American public believe he committed an impeachable offense, and new evidence continues to emerge that he abused the power of his office when he asked Ukraine to interfere in the U.S. election by investigating a political rival.”
She added that the House will continue to “fight back against this administration’s anti-democratic agenda and stand up for the rule of law.”
Herrera Beutler said Americans will be able to come together again because the nation has made it through difficult times in the past. However, impeachment “absolutely” further polarized the nation, she said.
“To me, it felt like it turned into a political weapon for one party to take out a president they didn’t like,” Herrera Beutler said. “I don’t think the American people want that. I don’t think people in Southwest Washington want that.”
She said she’s glad the trial ended this week so Congress can focus on other important legislation.
“My opinion is that Southwest Washington is going to be best off when we move past this onto issues they really care about like prescription drugs, workforce training and infrastructure,” she said. “I think the fact that it turned out not to be a fair investigation meant that it ended up wasting a lot of time and resources away from legislation and fixing real problems in our area.”