If we grade on a generous curve, it's probably fair to say there's a group of relative House Republican moderates who voted to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, impeach Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrectionist riot, and create a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol.
The problem, of course, is that this group is quite small. Of the 212 Republicans in the House, a grand total of nine GOP members cast responsible votes in each of these three instances.
One of the nine is Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler from the state of Washington. As The Seattle Times reported, the GOP incumbent has become Trump's latest target.
Following up on vows to exact revenge against Republicans who voted to impeach him, former President Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed Joe Kent, a challenger to U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.
In a written statement, the former president referred to the incumbent congresswoman as a "RINO" — which refers to "Republicans In Name Only" — and an "incompetent" lawmaker who voted "against the Republican Party" when she joined a bipartisan majority in support of Trump's impeachment.
Though the former president didn't mention it, Herrera Beutler is also known to national audiences because of what she reportedly learned during the Jan. 6 attack. As we discussed in February, the congresswoman spoke to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy about the riot and heard him say that Trump told him, "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election theft than you are."
In other words, Trump doesn't just want to help defeat Herrera Beutler in a Republican congressional primary, he also wants to defeat a key Jan. 6 witness.
But just as important is the larger political context: Relatively moderate GOP lawmakers are an endangered species on Capitol Hill. Herrera Beutler representing one of the more competitive districts in the Pacific northwest, probably qualifies for the label, at least by contemporary standards.
For Trump, the goal is to replace these relative moderates with those who are loyal to him.