GOP’s Herrera Beutler Becomes Surprise Impeachment-Trial Force
(Bloomberg) -- Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler emerged as a surprise Republican voice lending some support to Democrats’ argument in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial over alleged incitement of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection.
The six-term congresswoman from Washington State was one of ten Republicans to vote for Trump’s impeachment last month.
She shot back into the headlines Friday night with a tweeted statement providing additional details of Trump’s behavior during the Capitol riot.
Herrera Beutler described a conversation she said she had with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy about his interaction with Trump while the attack was underway, as lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence were being whisked to safety inside the Capitol.
Her account briefly disrupted proceedings in the Senate, which were set to finish Trump’s second impeachment trial with limited drama on Saturday. In a move that surprised lawmakers of both parties, House impeachment managers asked for Herrera Beutler to provide testimony; instead, Democratic and Republican senators reached a deal to enter her account into the trial record.
“When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was Antifa that had breached the Capitol,” Herrera Beutler said in her statement.
“McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,’” she added.
Herrera Beutler, 42, was one of the youngest members of the House when she was elected in 2010. She’s a self-described “independent voice” among House Republicans, and in the past has broken with her party on a series of votes related to government funding.
A mother of three children, all born while she’s been serving in Congress, she has worked on maternal health legislation and founded a caucus dedicated to the issue. Her first daughter was born with a rare birth defect.
The congresswoman had previously recounted her conversation with McCarthy to a local reporter in mid-January for an article about her decision to vote for Trump’s impeachment.
“I have shared these details in countless conversations with constituents and colleagues, and multiple times through the media and other public forums,” she wrote in Friday’s statement, which has been shared over 26,000 times on Twitter.
“To the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: if you have something to add here, now would be the time.”
As the impeachment trial careens toward a verdict, Herrera Beutler’s statement has become a critical insight into Trump’s behavior and outlook as violence played out in the Capitol.
Herrera Beutler already faced a backlash from Republican leaders in her southern-Washington district after her “yes” vote on Trump’s impeachment. She’s likely to face a more Trump-allied primary challenger in 2022.
“I’m not afraid of losing my job, but I am afraid that my country will fail,” Herrera Beutler said in an address on the House floor before casting her impeachment vote. “My vote to impeach our sitting president is not a fear-based decision. I am not choosing a side, I’m choosing truth.”
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