Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin shared his firsthand experience with surviving the Capitol insurrection last month as he urged senators Tuesday to take action during President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.
“This cannot be the future of America,” Raskin said. “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, who was named lead manager for the impeachment trial by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, described how his family had asked him to stay home Jan. 6. The Raskins had buried their son Tommy Raskin, 25, who died by suicide, the day before.
The Maryland Democrat told his family he had a duty to certify the Electoral College votes and encouraged his 24-year-old daughter, Tabitha, and son-in-law, Hank, to come to the Capitol with him to witness history and a peaceful transfer of power.
The two asked Raskin whether it was going to be safe — they had heard Trump was holding a rally. Raskin replied: “Of course it would be safe. It was the Capitol.”
“The kids [were] hiding under the desk and placing what they thought were their final texts and whispered phone calls,” Raskin said. “They thought they were going to die.”
Raskin remembers hugging the two and telling them how sorry he was. He told his daughter it wouldn’t be like this next time.
“And you know what she said was: ‘Dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capitol,’” said Raskin, holding back tears. “Of all the terrible brutal things I saw and heard on that day and since then, that one hit me the hardest.”
Trump is the first president to face impeachment charges after leaving office and the first to be twice impeached. The charges against him stem from the Capitol siege that left five people dead and dozens injured as rioters stormed the building to try to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
Trump’s lawyers insist he is not guilty of the sole charge of “incitement of insurrection,” his fiery words just a figure of speech as he encouraged a rally crowd to march on the Capitol and “fight like hell” for his presidency. But prosecutors say he “has no good defense” and they promise new evidence.
Raskin, who represents parts of Montgomery, Carroll and Frederick counties, opened the hearing by encouraging lawmakers to think about how their decision on the impeachment trial could serve as a precedent in the future.
He then showed a graphic video, more than 10 minutes long, of rioters breaching the Capitol and Trump telling his crowd at a rally before the insurrection that “We will stop the steal! We’re going to walk down to the Capitol!”
“If that is not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing,” Raskin said. “I hope this trial reminds America how personal democracy is and how personal is the loss of democracy, too.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.