Jaime Herrera Beutler could soon be taking center stage at Donald Trump's impeachment trial, with Democrats honing in on her suggestion that the now-former president appeared to side with the mob attacking the U.S. Capitol last month.
Democrats voted early on Saturday to open debate about calling witnesses at the impeachment trial, with the House managers saying they intended to call Herrera Beutler to recount her conversation with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy about his heated phone call with Trump as the attack took place.
As The New York Times noted, the Washington state Republican made waves on Friday when she released a statement recounting the phone call that took place as the attack unfolded. By her account, Trump sided with the rioters and pushed back when McCarthy asked him to speak out publicly to tell them to stop.
She claimed Trump told McCarthy the mob attacking the building was "more upset about the election than you are."
In the statement, she also called on those around Trump at the time to come forward to confirm her account.
"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," her statement read.
The decision to ask for witnesses came as an unexpected twist in the impeachment trial, as many expected the final vote to take place on Saturday with an acquittal likely, after a number of GOP senators indicated they were not planning to convict.
At the trial, House managers claimed Trump incited the crowd at a rally on January 6, imploring people to fight and telling them to march to the Capitol and assuring them he would be there as well. However, he instead returned to the White House to reportedly watch on television as the events unfolded. As The Inquisitr reported, some White House sources said he watched in excitement as his supporters surrounded the building and broke inside, threatening lawmakers and Mike Pence.
Unlike many of her GOP colleagues, Herrera Beutler has not been shy about rebuking Trump in the past. As The Inquisitr reported, she was one of a number of GOP members who spoke out after he made a crude dig at the deceased Rep. John Dingell.
Trump spoke at a rally in Michigan in 2019 the same day as the formal vote on the first two impeachment articles he faced for efforts to pressure Ukraine into digging up dirt on Joe Biden. During the event, he recounted a conversation with the late representative's wife, Rep. Debbie Dingell, and insinuated that her deceased husband was subject to eternal damnation.
"She calls me up. 'It's the nicest thing that's ever happened. Thank you so much. John should be so thrilled. He's looking down. He'd be so thrilled,'" he said. "'Thank you so much, sir.' I said, 'That's OK, don't worry about it.' Maybe he's looking up. I don't know."
Herrera Beutler called his comments inappropriate. Last month, she was also one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach the former president.