After months of reckless lies about election integrity culminated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a national reckoning is in order.
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., showed the way toward accountability during former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. She has suffered unjustly for it ever since.
On Feb. 12, the eve of the trial, Herrera Beutler threw off partisan handcuffs, not only volunteering information useful for his prosecution but calling on others to do the same. This act ensured proceedings — and history — would include a more complete account. The nation had not heard the information, though she had told the Longview Daily News Jan. 15 that U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy told her of Trump’s galling nonchalant response when asked to quell the riot.
“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are just more upset about the election than you are,” Trump said, in the account Herrera Beutler relayed.
This supports the allegation the insurrection was in line with Trump’s intentions. Clearly, Herrera Beutler did not do herself any favors within her party. She spoke up after only nine of her 210 House Republican colleagues joined her and the Democrats Jan. 13 in voting to impeach Trump. And it was commonly understood that Republican senators would protect him from conviction.
Yet she stepped forward to lay out the truth, bravery that deserves reward, not scorn.
Herrera Beutler has been hung out to dry by much of her party. Neither McCarthy nor any other Republican privy to his description has corroborated her account. Significantly, McCarthy did not dispute it.
Already, three Republicans from the right announced they’ll challenge her for her seat in 2022. Dozens of protesters marched on her office on Feb. 20. Clark County Republicans’ chair, Joel Mattila, wrote that she was “in lonely political waters.” On Feb. 23, the county group’s central committee censured her for voting to impeach Trump.
This overheated state of affairs is repairable. But the first step is for both political parties to work on the remedy. If a Republican can truthfully challenge the facts Herrera Beutler laid out, they should do so. If not, her party — and Democrats — should commend the political courage it took to step into a partisan inferno just to state a fact.
America deserves better leadership than perpetuation of conspiracy theory nonsense about the election. It certainly deserves better leadership than U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., showed on Feb. 23 by spreading the lie that “fake Trump protesters” caused the riot’s deadly violence.
Every American deserves the truth. Herrera Beutler deserves praise for stepping up to share a valuable piece of it with the nation. Those political waters should be far less lonely.
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