After last week’s attack on the U.S. Capital, which some say was incited by President Donald Trump, Southwest Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler joined the majority in voting “yes” in the second impeachment of the sitting president, articles of which charge Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”
It’s a decision likely to spark pushback in the county, where about 65 percent of voters cast their ballot for Trump in 2020, and where the Lewis County Republicans offered a significantly less-firm stance on the pro-Trump mob’s attempt to overturn the election.
On the House floor, Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, told members that she rises “to stand against our enemy,” which she characterized as fear.
“I’m afraid of what people will say or think. I’m afraid of being devalued. I’m not afraid of losing my job, but I am afraid that my country will fail. I’m afraid patriots of this country have died in vain. I’m afraid my children won’t grow up in a free country. I’m afraid injustice will prevail. But truth — truth sets us free from fear,” she said. “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.”
The Lewis County Republicans released a statement on Facebook two days after the attack, condemning the violence but falling short of connecting Trump to the incident, instead suggesting that the government’s “failure to bring closure” on baseless election fraud allegations were to blame. The post compares the insurgence — aimed at overturning election results certified in all 50 states — to protests for racial justice this summer, and says out of the group of pro-Trump supporters, “all but a few hundred conducted themselves in an orderly and legal manner.”
“...a few hundred of them converged on the capitol and, caught up in mob mentality, breached the capitol illegally and violently causing both destruction of property and physical conflict between demonstrators and capital security. These actions exceeded the bounds of peaceful protest and deserve the same condemnation given the illegal actions of liberal protestors.”
The violent attack on the Capitol came after weeks of planning by far-right and extremist organizers on social media platforms, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other intelligence agencies.
By contrast, in her statement Tuesday night, sixth-term Rep. Herrera Beutler released a statement calling the attack — which led to five deaths — an assault on American democracy incited by Trump.
“The terrorists roamed the Capitol, hunting the Vice President and the Speaker of the House. Hours went by before the President did anything meaningful to stop the attack,” she wrote. “Finally, the President released a pathetic denouncement of the violence that also served as a wink and a nod to those who perpetrated it.”
“The President’s offenses, in my reading of the Constitution, were impeachable based on the indisputable evidence we already have.”
It’s a shift for the Republican, who clings onto the last House Republican seat touching the Pacific. In Congress’ first attempt at impeachment, she voted against both articles, which alleged that Trump obstructed Congress and abused his power, saying the articles lacked credibility.
In 2016, she refused to vote for Trump after an infamous 2005 clip made its rounds featuring Trump bragging about groping women.
Herrera Beutler instead wrote in House Speaker Paul Ryan. But in 2020, the congresswoman had a change of heart and threw her support behind the incumbent.
Although Herrera Beutler represents a purple district, Lewis County voted for her solidly in 2020, awarding her a landslide win over her democratic challenger Carolyn Long.
Lewis County Republicans had not released a statement on the second impeachment attempt as of press time, and chairman Brandon Svenson — also the mayor of Winlock — could not be reached before time of print.
Svenson has MC’d at recent protests organized by Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson, a figure who helped lead the storming of the Oregon Capitol last month — a violent altercation that led to four arrests — as well as the storming of Gov. Jay Inslee’s mansion gates last week, which led to some being charged with criminal trespass.
The House will now decide if and when to send the articles to the Senate for a trial. If convicted by two-thirds of the Senate, he could then be barred from federal office.