In opening arguments of former President Trump’s second impeachment trial on Tuesday, Representative Jamie Raskin made one thing clear to his congressional colleagues: “This trial is personal.” The Democratic lead impeachment manager, who was at the Capitol with family members on the day of the attack just one day after burying his son, made an emotional plea that allowing events like what unfolded “cannot be our future.”
The first day of impeachment proceedings on Tuesday was for the Senate to decide if it has the authority to try Mr. Trump, who was impeached on one article of impeachment for “incitement of insurrection” for the January 6 attack at the Capitol. Attorneys for the former president and House impeachment managers had two hours each to present their cases, and the Senate ultimately decided by 56-44 vote to move forward. The trial will reconvene on Wednesday.
At the beginning of the trial, Raskin and other Democratic managers introduced a 13-minute video timeline of what occurred on January 6. Along with footage showing Trump supporters storming the Capitol, it also showed Mr. Trump telling supporters just hours earlier to “fight like hell.”
“You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our Constitution. That’s a high crime and misdemeanor,” Raskin said after the presentation. “If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing.”
Toward the end of the day’s proceedings, Raskin said that the trial is personal for everyone who was there when the attack occurred.
For Raskin, the trial and the day it represents serves as a reminder of a “devastating” time for his family. Raskin’s son, Tommy Raskin, died by suicide on December 31 at the age of 25 and was buried on January 5.
The Representative from Maryland told Congressional members on Tuesday that his younger daughter, Tabitha Raskin, as well as his son-in-law, Hank Kronick, who is married to Raskin’s elder daughter Hannah, accompanied him at the Capitol that Wednesday “because they wanted to be together with me in the middle of a devastating week for our family.”
It was the first time Kronick had been to the Capitol, Raskin said.
“It was the day after we buried her brother, our son Tommy, the saddest day of our lives,” Raskin said. “I told them I had to go back to work because we were counting electoral votes that day on January 6. It was our constitutional duty, and I invited them instead to come with me to witness this historic event, the peaceful transfer of power in America.”
Raskin added that his children had asked them directly if it would be safe to be at the Capitol, as they had heard Mr. Trump “was calling on his followers” to protest the election in the area.
“Of course it should be safe,” he had told them. “This is the Capitol.”
But Raskin described Tuesday how just hours later, a frenzied scene broke out. He said his colleagues called their loved ones and House members removed their Congressional pins “so they wouldn’t be identified by the mob as they tried to escape.” He said people were pounding on the doors outside the House chamber, which he said was “most haunting sound I ever heard.”
Meanwhile, Raskin’s children were locked in an office with Raskin’s chief of staff, hiding under a desk. Raskin said “they thought they were going to die,” and when he was finally able to reunite with them, he had promised “it would not be like this again.”
His daughter, however, said “‘Dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capitol,'” Raskin told senators through 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 flag pole, the flag still on it, to spear and pummel one of our police officers ruthlessly, mercilessly tortured with a flag on it that he was defending with his very life.”
“Senators, this cannot be our future. This cannot be the future of America. 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,” Raskin said.
Democratic managers will have 8 hours on Wednesday to showcase why Congressional members should convict Mr. Trump.
“I hope this trial reminds America how personal democracy is,” Raskin said, “and how personal is the loss of democracy, too.”
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email [email protected].
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