Raskin gets emotional recounting personal experience on Jan. 6: ‘This cannot be our future’
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead House impeachment manager, became emotional while presenting the case against former President Trump in Tuesday’s trial as he recounted his own personal experience in the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“I hope this trial reminds America how personal democracy is and how personal is the loss of democracy too,” Raskin began.
Raskin described how just one day before Jan. 6, his family laid to rest his son, Tommy — who died by suicide less than a week earlier — and called it “the saddest day of our lives.”
.@RepRaskin on talking to his daughter on January 6: “I told her how sorry I was and I promised her that it would not be like this again the next time she came back to the Capitol with me. You know what she said? She said, ‘Dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capitol.'” pic.twitter.com/kIyZooI1IR
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 9, 2021
Despite his grief over the death of his son, Raskin said he was determined to return to work on Jan. 6 and serve as one of the leading Democrats to argue against Republicans’ objections to the Electoral College count. He invited his daughter Tabitha and his son-in-law, Hank, to join him to watch the proceedings, insisting that it would be safe despite the anticipation of protests.
“They wanted to be together with me in the middle of a devastating week for our family,” Raskin said. “I invited them instead to come with me to witness this historic event, the peaceful transfer of power of America.”
Raskin described preparing for the day’s proceedings in House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) office off the House floor as dozens of colleagues from both parties stopped by to offer their condolences.
“I felt a sense of being lifted up from the agony,” Raskin said slowly. “And through the tears I was working on a speech for the floor when we would all be together in joint session.”
Later, Raskin’s daughter and son-in-law went to the House chamber and watched the floor debate from the visitors’ gallery. They eventually went back to Hoyer’s office before knowing the Capitol had been breached.
Raskin described what it was like being in the House chamber as it was locked down, separated from his family, and hearing colleagues fearing for their lives.
“I couldn’t get out there to be with them in that office,” Raskin said. “And all around me people were calling their wives and their husbands, their loved ones, to say goodbye.”
He recalled how lawmakers were removing congressional pins in an effort to make themselves less identifiable to the mob and were instructed to put gas masks on. He noted the House chaplain said a prayer.
“And then there was a sound I will never forget, the sound of pounding on the door like a battering ram, the most haunting sound I ever heard, and I will never forget it,” Raskin said, shaking his head.
His chief of staff was with his daughter and son-in-law while they were barricaded in Hoyer’s office for more than an hour before police rescued them.
“The kids hiding under the desk, placing what they thought were their final texts and whispered phone calls to say their goodbyes. They thought they were going to die.”
Eventually, Raskin was reunited with his family. He recalled hugging them and apologizing to his daughter.
“I told her how sorry I was, and I promised her that it would not be like this again the next time she came back to the Capitol with me. And you know what she said? She said, ‘Dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capitol,'” Raskin said, breaking down in tears.
“Of all the terrible, brutal things I saw and I heard on that day and since then, that one hit me the hardest,” he said. “That and watching someone use an American flagpole, the flag still on it, to spear and pummel one of our police officers ruthlessly, mercilessly. Tortured by a pole with a flag on it that he was defending with his very life.”
Raskin emphasized how police officers endured particularly extreme trauma from fighting against the violent mob, pointing to officers with brain damage, gouged eyes, a heart attack and lost fingers. Two other officers — one from the Capitol Police and the other from the Metropolitan Police Department — died by suicide in the days shortly after Jan. 6.
“Senators, this cannot be our future. This cannot be the future of America,” Raskin said.
The first day of the Senate impeachment trial — the second against Trump in a year — is focused on arguments from both sides on the constitutionality of the proceedings. Trump’s attorneys are arguing that Trump did not incite the riot, his speech was protected under the First Amendment and the trial is unconstitutional because the former president is no longer in office.
Raskin and the other impeachment managers point to precedent of Congress considering impeachment proceedings against a former official who resigned and argue there shouldn’t be a “January exception” that effectively allows presidents to commit impeachable conduct in their final days in office.
“We cannot have presidents inciting and mobilizing mob violence against our government and our institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the people under the Constitution of the United States. Much less can we create a new ‘January exception’ in our precious beloved Constitution that prior generations have died for and fought for so that corrupt presidents have several weeks to get away with whatever it is they want to do,” Raskin said.
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