SALEM — Rep. Knute Buehler’s long Facebook post criticizing President Trump is making the rounds of political circles in Oregon and Washington, D.C., despite the Bend lawmaker’s contention the social media message was meant for constituents, not colleagues.
“As a Republican, I feel a special obligation to speak out against the actions of the President of my Party — even a candidate I didn’t support,” Buehler wrote Wednesday. “Being inexperienced, ill-tempered and even incompetent are not crimes, but impeding or obstructing justice is, so we need to fully understand what President Trump has done.”
Buehler also called for a special counsel to investigate Trump, posting the comment about the same time a special counsel was being announced in Washington, D.C. Buehler later added a second Facebook post praising the Justice Department decision to appoint former FBI director Robert Mueller to the position.
Buehler is often mentioned as a likely candidate for Oregon governor in 2018. Links to Buehler’s Facebook posting were sent to the media via his personal political website, not his state website.
Prior to the November election, Buehler had been a consistent critic of Trump, even calling in October for Republicans to replace him as the GOP nominee following the revelation of audio tapes of Trump bragging about groping women.
After the election, Buehler said he decided to focus on state issues. But less than four months into Trump’s four-year term, Buehler said he reached the point where he could no longer remain silent.
“The current chaos surrounding the President requires me to speak my mind,” he said in the statement.
In answer to questions from The Bulletin, Buehler responded briefly via his personal website. He said he chose Facebook, instead of a press conference or other higher-profile method, because he wanted to reach his constituents, not legislative colleagues.
Buehler declined to answer questions about any link between the post and his future political plans. He also declined to say what Republican values that he felt Trump had violated.
Asked if he thought the post would damage his relations with his fellow Republicans in Salem, Buehler was direct: “No.”
Republican House Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, agreed that there would be no cold shoulder by the GOP caucus.
“Absolutely not,” McLane said Thursday. “All 25 members of the House Republican caucus are independently elected and are encouraged to express their opinions on any issue.”
The Oregon Republican Party did not issue any statements on a reaction to Buehler’s post by party officials.
McLane declined to say whether he agreed with Buehler about Trump. Sen. Tim Knopp and Rep. Gene Whisnant, both Republicans representing parts of the Deschutes County area, could not be reached for comment.
In Washington, D.C., Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, said the Mueller investigation would augment those by the House and Senate already underway.
“The FBI and the Congressional Committees must follow all leads and get to the facts,” Walden said. “As I have said before, foreign countries have no business messing with our elections.”
Earlier in the week, Walden said he would not join with the rest of the Oregon delegation — all Democrats — in calling for a special counsel.
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