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caption: U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler
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U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler
Credit: <p>Molly Soloman</p>

Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler defends impeachment vote amid backlash

While former President Trump is on trial in the Senate, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Buetler (R-WA) has come under fire with some of her constituents for being one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him in the U.S. House.

“I was very disappointed in your vote for impeachment,” said "Doug" from Battleground at a tele-Town Hall she held Monday night.

In response, Herrera Buetler, who represents the 3rd Congressional District in Southwest Washington, recalled the scene she witnessed firsthand on the floor of the House on January 6 when Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol.

“Just the pounding, they were at the doors just pounding to get in, and these doors are just glass. I remember looking and there were just about three cops,” she said.

Herrera Buetler said she believes Trump provoked the attack, pointing to his speech earlier that day, which included lines like, “You're never going to take back our country with weakness.” Even so, Herrera Buetler also said that reasonable people might disagree about exactly what Trump meant in the speech.

But then, with the Capitol under siege, fellow Republicans started calling Trump to tell him what was happening and he didn’t intervene. Rather, he seemed pleased.

Trump’s inaction is what convinced Herrera Buetler to vote for impeachment, she said. “I can see how someone would say his speech didn't do it. But I don't know a way to explain that he didn't try and stop it,” she said.

She also said "the counting of the electoral votes" is a ritual that Trump had a sworn duty to protect as the Commander in Chief.

It’s not yet clear if Herrera Buetler’s explanation for her vote to impeach will convince Republicans, many of whom are Trump supporters, to re-elect her.

Republican Party leaders in the 3rd Congressional District told KUOW Herrera Buetler will definitely face a primary challenge from a Republican who is more supportive of former President Trump in 2022. So far, no specific names have been shared.

Democrats will also be looking to gain an advantage if Republicans nominate someone further to the right in a district that analysts consider “competitive.”

One of the callers to the Town Hall, "Deborah from Longview," who thanked Herrera Buetler for her impeachment vote, said she mostly votes for Democrats but will continue to vote for Republican Herrera Buetler in 2022.

For now, Jaime Herrera Buetler remains the last Republican to keep her seat in Congress directly along the West Coast of the lower 48 United States.