For a few hours Saturday, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, was unexpectedly in the national spotlight. That light has shown favorably on a representative who stood for truth and integrity throughout the second impeachment of Donald Trump.
The U.S. Senate trial on a single article of impeachment — incitement of insurrection — was briefly delayed as senators considered calling Herrera Beutler as a witness. She earlier had described secondhand knowledge of a phone call between then-President Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as seditionists stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
McCarthy, according to Herrera Beutler, tried to convince Trump to urge an end to the riot: “That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well Kevin, I guess they’re more upset about the election than you are.’ ”
Herrera Beutler’s accounts of the Capitol riot have consistently indicated that Trump ignored his duty to defend the Constitution and the nation. During a Feb. 8 telephone town hall, according The (Centralia) Daily Chronicle, she said: “The president was basically saying ‘nah, I’m OK with this.’ Did he send anyone in to help? No. But he did place calls to senators while they were in lockdown. And you know what he said? He said, ‘Can you do something to further delay the electoral counting?’ ”
Rather than calling Herrera Beutler as a witness, senators entered her written account into the trial record. They eventually voted 57-43 in favor of convicting Trump — falling short of the required two-thirds threshold.
Trump’s second impeachment trial is now in the history books. He has avoided conviction in the Senate and remains eligible to pursue elected office in the future, with the untoward episode reflecting the nation’s deep political divisions.
Throughout, Herrera Beutler has been a pillar of reason and principle. She has placed country before party, a patriotic duty ignored by a majority of her fellow Republicans in judging the actions of a Republican president.
In becoming one of 10 House Republicans to vote in favor of impeachment, Herrera Beutler said during a speech on the House floor: “I rise today to stand against our enemy. And to clarify, our enemy isn’t the president, or the president-elect. Fear is our enemy. It tells us what we want to hear, it incites anger and violence and fire, but it also haunts us into silence and inaction. What are you afraid of? My vote to impeach our sitting president is not a fear-based decision. I am not choosing a side, I’m choosing truth. It’s the only way to defeat fear.”
Republican leaders in Clark County would have preferred silence and inaction; they have criticized Herrera Beutler for her impeachment vote and have threatened to censure her. It is an example of how local party leaders have abandoned logic, ethics and dignity in servitude to Trump.
Notably, two House Republicans who voted for impeachment were from Washington — an indication that the state’s top-two primary allows officials to vote their conscience with diminished threat of a primary challenge.
Local Republican Party leaders should focus their efforts on rebuking those who attempted to overthrow the United States government; they should acknowledge that an endless string of lies about election fraud are a larger threat to our nation than an elected representative who stands up for the truth.
Herrera Beutler’s stand unexpectedly drew national attention over the weekend. That attention reflected well on Southwest Washington and our representative.