Instead, the problem is what the decision highlighted: that witness intimidation was yet again a factor in a proceeding intended to hold Trump accountable for his misconduct. Trump had tried to influence potential witnesses during the special counsel’s investigation; he had intimidated witnesses in his first impeachment; and at least one surrogate appeared to be engaged in witness intimidation this time around. Given this track record, it’s reasonable to worry that such intimidation will come into play in the various investigations now circling Trump.
After the trial, House managers indicated that Republican members of Congress and individuals close to Trump and Pence had refused to cooperate for fear of retaliation and retribution. On Twitter, Herrera Beutler’s fellow Republican congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), wrote what could be read as a thinly veiled threat to Herrera Beutler, invoking Trump supporters, some of whom had stormed the Capitol. “First voting to impeach innocent President Trump, then yapping to the press and throwing @GOPLeader under the bus,” Greene wrote. “The Trump loyal 75 million are watching.”
Herrera Beutler has not spoken publicly since issuing her statement on Friday night, so we don’t know if there were specific threats to her safety. But Republicans who crossed Trump after he lost the November election — such as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — have received threats against themselves and, in some instances, their families.