Stop And Watch Rep. Jamie Raskin's Impeachment Speech, It's Important
Rep Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland), the lead impeachment manager in the Senate trial of Donald Trump for inciting the violent insurrection against Congress on January 6, wrapped up the House's initial presentation of the case against Trump with a brief, very personal speech recalling his own experiences on that day. He reminded the senators acting as Donald Trump's jury that the assault wasn't just an abstract attack on democracy, but that they had themselves been attacked as a body. "I hope this trial reminds America how personal democracy is," he said, "And how personal the loss of democracy is, too."
Here's the speech, which is just over eight minutes, but incredibly powerful.
Raskin said that January 6 had marked his return to the House, just a day after his family had buried his son Tommy, who had killed himself the week before. Raskin had invited along his youngest child, Tabitha, 24, and his oldest daughter's husband, reassuring them it would be perfectly safe despite Donald Trump's call for thousands of protesters to come to Washington to support overturning the results of the election. Congress is well-protected, after all.
(Correction/update: we originally said the son-in-law was married to Tabitha. Wonkette regrets the error. Which NPR also made, whew.)
Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Democratic majority leader, had offered Raskin the use of his office near the House floor, and Raskin and his daughter and son-in-law spent much of the morning meeting with House members, both Republicans and Democrats, who wanted to offer their sympathies. "I felt a sense of being lifted up from the agony, and I won't forget their tenderness."
He recalled the speech he was writing for that day's joint session, a speech he wanted to focus on the theme of unity. He quoted Abraham Lincoln's 1838 Lyceum speech, in which Lincoln had warned that America isn't likely to ever be destroyed by some foreign nation. If destruction ever came to the United States, he said, "it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher." In the same speech, Raskin noted, Lincoln condemned mob violence, which would lead "to tyranny and despotism."
Funny he should mention that.
After he'd delivered his speech that day, his daughter and son-in-law went back to Hoyer's office; not long after that, the mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. Raskin recalled the terror of being separated from his youngest child just after burying his middle child. Around him, he said, House members and staff were making what they feared would be their last calls home, to say goodbye to spouses and families. "Members of Congress were removing their congressional pins, so they wouldn't be identified by the mob as they tried to escape the violence."
Raskin said he would never forget the sound of the mob "pounding on the door like a battering ram, the most haunting sound I've ever heard." He noted that his daughter and son-in-law were barricaded in Hoyer's office with Raskin's chief of staff, hiding under desks and contacting their loved ones too, for what they thought would be the last time. "They thought they were going to die."
When they were finally reunited, Raskin says he told his daughter, that he was sorry:
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.
Fighting back tears, Raskin added, "Of all the terrible brutal things I saw, and I heard, on that day and since then, that one hit me the hardest."
Raskin noted the horrible loss of life, and the many Capitol and DC police who were injured, as well as the two cops who killed themselves in the days after the attack. Struggling again to maintain his composure, Raskin wrapped up:
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. Much less can we create a new "January exception" [...] so that corrupt presidents have several weeks to get away with whatever it is they want to do.
And then idiots on Twitter got to the important business of mocking Raskin for being too emotional.
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