Lead Manager Raskin on CNN State of the Union: I'm not going to lose my Republic in 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Lead Impeachment Manager, appeared on CNN State of the Union with Jake Tapper to discuss the second impeachment of President Donald J. Trump, his role as Lead Impeachment Manager, and the loss of his son Tommy.
On why Trump must be impeached and convicted: The Constitution talks about conviction, removal, and disqualification from holding further public office. I don't think anybody would seriously argue that we should establish a precedent where every President on the way out the door has two weeks or three weeks or four weeks to try to incite an armed insurrection against the union or organize a coup against the union and if it succeeds, he becomes a dictator and if it fails, he's not subject to impeachment or conviction because we want to let bygones be bygones. This was the most serious presidential crime in the history of the United States of America, the most dangerous crime by a president ever committed against the United States, and there are Republicans who are recognizing it as well as Democrats. I want to single out my colleague Liz Cheney who I think perfectly synthesized our situation, Jake. She said that Donald Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob, he lit the match that led to the violent insurrection. None of it would have happened without him. Everything is due to his actions and this was the most sweeping betrayal, the most terrible betrayal of a presidential oath in office.
On the timeline of the Senate trial: The Senate has not been in session so the Speaker is organizing the formal transfer of the article and it should be coming up soon. I know the Speaker also considers the President a clear and present danger to the Republic.
On President Trump’s incitement of the mob: I want people to focus on the gravity of these events. Five Americans are dead because a violent mob was encouraged, extorted, and incited by the President of the United States of America, which broke into the Congress of the United States, into the Capitol, and came within a hair's breadth of hanging Vice President Pence. I mean, the words are still ringing in the ears of the Members – “hang Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence.” They built a gallows outside the Capitol of the United States. There was an assassination party hunting for Nancy Pelosi. This cannot be at the level of normal partisan push and pull and just kind of throwing rhetorical bricks back and forth. This was an attack on our country.
The fact that it was deliberated and planned and premeditated underscores the leadership and complicity of Donald Trump in all of these events.
On the loss of his son: Tommy was a remarkable person. He had overwhelming love for humanity and for our country in his heart and really for all the people of the world. We lost him on the last day of that godawful year 2020 and he left us a note which said, “Please forgive me. My illness won today. Look after each other, the animals and the global poor for me. All my love, Tommy,” and that was the last act in a life that dazzled anybody who came into contact with Tommy. He was a poet who wrote these magnificent 20 or 30-minute poems which he, of course, knew by heart and would get up and perform them. He was absolutely devoted to human rights for every person. He was devoted to animal rights and welfare. He was a passionate vegan and convinced a lot of people to stop eating animals just through the force of his poetry. He was a second-year student at Harvard Law School.
When we lost him, he had not only beloved friends at Harvard Law School but he was teaching a course with Michael Sandell, Justice, as a teaching fellow at the college so he had students of his own, and graded all of his papers and exams and wrote many pages analyzing the work of the students and writing back to them. He made donations in each of their names to different charitable groups that he thought would be consistent with the values of the student. So some of them went to Give Directly and to Oxfam and so on. I asked him why he did that, and he quoted something that Father Berrigan had said about the great Dorothy Day. He said “well, like Father Berrigan said about Dorothy Day, she lived as if the truth were true,” and he said, “I want to show them that the truth is true, and we can live that way.”
On his role as Lead Impeachment Manager: People are asking me why I decided to do this. First of all, I don't know if you've ever tried to say no to Speaker Pelosi about anything. She's actually been very sensitive and thoughtful, but she wanted me to do it because she knows I've devoted my life to the Constitution and Republic. I'm a professor of constitutional law but I did it really with my son in my heart and helping lead the way. I feel him in my chest. When we went to count the Electoral College votes and it came under that ludicrous attack, I felt my son with me, and I was most concerned with our youngest daughter and my son-in-law, who is married to our other daughter, who were with me that day and who got caught in a room off the House Floor. In between them and me was a rampaging armed mob that could have killed them easily and was banging on the doors where they were hiding under a desk with my Chief of Staff. These events are personal to me, Jake. There was an attack on our country. There was an attack on our people. There are thousands of people that work on Capitol Hill, not just Members but staff members, and Capitol Hill Police Officers, who were pushed and shoved and punched in the face, pummeled and hit over the head with fire extinguishers, and the President did nothing to stop it for more than two hours as Members of Congress called him and begged him to do something and he continued to watch it on TV and enjoy their insurrection tailgate party, where they were celebrating the attack on our democracy. This president has been impeached already twice, and we just want the Senate to conduct a serious trial where every Member of the Senate lives up to his or her Constitutional Oath to render impartial judgment as a juror.
I'm not going to lose my son at the end of 2020 and lose my country and my Republic in 2021. It's not going to happen. The vast majority of American people -- Democrats, Republicans and Independents -- reject armed insurrection and violence as a new way of doing business in America. We're not going to do that. This was the most terrible crime ever by a President of the United States against our country, and I want everybody to feel the gravity and the seriousness of those events. At the same time, of course, all of us are deeply invested in President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris moving the country forward to repair all of the wreckage and damage of last year, on everything from COVID-19 to the economy. I was thinking on the way over this morning, Jake, about the Constitution: We the People, in order to form a more perfect union, ensure justice, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare, and the blessings of liberty, do hereby ordain and establish. We have to do all of those things at the same time. We have to establish justice. We have to ensure domestic tranquility. This is America and the people are up to it and we have a new Administration coming to town that is ready to lead America back on the road of progress.
On depression and the mental health crisis in America: We can get people through this. You must speak to people in your family. You must speak to your doctor. You must call 911 if you're alone and that's necessary. Don't go down that road. That's very clear to us. I'm no expert but I know that we can address it. We can deal with it together. I'm hoping that everybody understands that there's a lot of love out there. You know, in Tommy's case, the outpouring of love and affection for him has been absolutely astounding. We set up a memorial fund for people and animals, which now has more than $400,000 in it. His classmates at Harvard Law School raised 5 or $6,000 to put in that so the causes he believed in would keep going but we don't have to wait for people to die for people to listen to them. We can listen to you right now. We are here for you.
Watch the full interview here:
If you're feeling you're in crisis in any way, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255