By voting Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler has taken a stand on the right side of history.
Herrera Beutler, in her sixth term as representative for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, joined nine of her fellow Republicans — including Washington’s Dan Newhouse — in rebuking a president from her own party. It is a president she supported in the November election.
“The President of the United States incited a riot aiming to halt the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next. That riot led to five deaths,” Herrera Beutler wrote Tuesday night, the evening before the House of Representatives began impeachment proceedings. “Hours went by before the President did anything meaningful to stop the attack. Instead, he and his lawyer were busy making calls to senators who were still in lockdown, seeking their support to further delay the Electoral College certification.”
Herrera Beutler’s recitation of the facts is accurate, and it makes clear the need for Trump to be impeached. The president committed crimes against the nation, fomenting a terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol and demonstrating an unprecedented disdain for American democracy.
After Wednesday’s vote, which also had support from all Democratic representatives, Trump holds an ignominious status as the only U.S. president to be impeached twice. It is well deserved.
Trump’s persistent efforts to erode the norms and institutions of civilized society reached a nadir last week, resulting in a deadly attack. Those efforts must be punished.
“I understand the argument that the best course is not to further inflame the country or alienate Republican voters,” Herrera Beutler wrote. “But I am a Republican voter. … I see that my own party will be best served when those among us choose truth.”
Arguments that impeachment proceedings are politically motivated or will further divide the nation fall flat. The centerpiece of our democracy was attacked at the urging of the president; capitulation and reconciliation are unwarranted in the wake of such an egregious action.
In practical terms, the impeachment is somewhat meaningless. Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president on Wednesday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he will not call a vote to possibly remove Trump from office prior to that.
For the sake of democracy and the future of the nation, McConnell should expedite the process, forcing senators to consider the facts and place their vote into the record. Trump should be marked with the stain of being removed from office, even if it is only a few days before the end of his term, and senators who decline to vote for removal should be stained with their fealty to Trump for the rest of their careers.
Instead, an impeachment trial is likely to overshadow the opening days of the Biden presidency. The situation is not ideal, but it is necessary, as Congress demonstrates to the world that our democracy is larger than a single president and that those who attack it from within will be held accountable.
In less than a week, the Trump presidency will be relegated to the dustbin of history. But the damage will linger, festered by a man who unfailingly put his own desires before those of the nation.
Herrera Beutler took a stand against that Wednesday as the House impeached a president for the fourth time since the founding of our nation. It is a stand on the right side of history.