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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Editorials

In Our View: Herrera Beutler proves she can handle the truth

The Columbian
Published: May 24, 2021, 6:03am

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, warrants praise for standing on the side of truth in the wake of a Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

While some members of her party have tried to downplay the events or used twisted semantics in an attempt to gaslight the public, Herrera Beutler consistently has placed country above partisanship. Most recently, she was one of 35 House Republicans to vote last week in favor of forming a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot.

This follows a vote in January to impeach then-President Donald Trump for his role in fomenting the insurrection, when Herrera Beutler was one of 10 Republicans to break ranks with her party.

It also follows a recent vote against removing Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming from a leadership role in the House Republican Caucus. Cheney’s transgression? She has disputed The Big Lie promoted by Trump that Joe Biden’s election victory was fraudulent.

It is shameful that such votes would be noteworthy or that they warrant discussion. Truth should be a bedrock of all political discourse, and elected officials from both parties should be forceful in defending it. Alas, many Republicans have been willing to embrace and promote Trump’s lies about the election. In the process, they have diminished our democracy and weakened its foundations.

As if a reminder is needed: Dozens of courts, including those of Trump-appointed judges, rejected his election claims because there was no evidence to support them. States have counted and, in many cases, recounted ballots and certified the results — including states led by Republican officials. And Biden has lawfully been sworn in as the nation’s 46th president.

False claims regarding that election emboldened a crowd of Trump supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, resulting in five deaths. It was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history, with a mob attempting to overthrow democracy, and it requires a full investigation.

Yet many Republican congressional representatives apparently are afraid of the truth. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., opposed the formation of the investigative commission, and most party members voted with him. Most egregious is that the commission is not expected to be approved by the Senate, where 10 Republicans must sign on.

Critics claim that the commission is a partisan creation designed to besmirch Trump. That is an absurdly disingenuous claim. Remember, this is a party that led 10 investigations into the 2012 attack on American facilities in Benghazi, Libya, gleefully pointing fingers at Hillary Clinton at every opportunity.

The riot at the U.S. Capitol was far more serious — a homegrown attack on our very government. Getting to the bottom of what happened, how it was planned, which security measures failed and what incited the crowd should be a goal of all freedom-loving Americans. Every possible measure must be taken to ensure it does not happen again; those who do not learn from history, it is said, are condemned to repeat it.

It would be easy for Herrera Beutler to join those of her party who are trying to wish away those events. It would be easy for her to echo a fellow Republican representative in saying the insurrection was a “normal tourist visit” or to dispute the meaning of “insurrection.” Her impeachment vote, after all, resulted in censure from the local Republican Party.

But such actions would represent cowardice rather than political courage, and they would not promote a search for the truth. Herrera Beutler deserves praise for seeking that truth.