- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 9, 2021

A tearful Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, invoked the death by  suicide of his son and the terror of his family during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol as he urged senators Tuesday to move forward with the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

Mr. Raskin, Maryland Democrat, briefly sobbed and covered his eyes with one hand on the Senate floor as he described the fear of his adult daughter Tabitha, who was present during the Capitol attack. She had been separated from Mr. Rasking during the riot by Trump supporters, and they were reunited by police about an hour later.

“I promised her that it would not be like this again the next time she came back to the Capitol with me,” Mr. Raskin recalled. “And you know what she said? She said ‘Dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capitol.’”

The lawmaker told senators, “Of all the brutal things I saw and I heard on that day and since, that one hit me the hardest.”

He said his family members had visited the Capitol with him on Jan. 6 because they had buried his son, Tommy, a day earlier. The younger Raskin, 25, had committed suicide on Dec. 31.

“They wanted to be with me in the middle of a devastating week for our family,” Mr. Raskin said.

The emotional wrap-up of Mr. Raskin’s opening argument in the impeachment trial showed how Democrats were calling on senators’ experiences as victims of the mob of Trump supporters, as well as jurors in the former president’s trial.

But Trump defense lawyer Bruce Castor Jr. said Democrats were trying to punish Mr. Trump unfairly for political speech, and he said people who committed crimes at the Capitol “should be locked up.”

“You will not hear any member of the team representing former President Trump say anything but in the strongest possible way denounce the violence of the rioters and those that beached the Capitol,” he said.

He said the real reason for the trial is “because the majority in the House of Representatives does not want to face Donald Trump as a political rival in the future.”

Mr. Castor refuted Mr. Trump‘s argument that the election was rigged, saying voters are “smart enough to pick a new administration if they don’t like the old one, and they just did.”

Mr. Castor also warned senators that a partisan-motivated impeachment by Democrats will cause “the floodgates to open” when Republicans control the House and Senate again someday.

“The political pendulum will shift one day,” he said. “This chamber, and the chamber across the way, will change one day, and partisan impeachments will become commonplace. People back home will demand that their House members continue the cycle as political fortunes rise and fall. The only entity that stands between the bitter infighting that led to the downfall of the Greek Republic, and the Roman Republic, and the American Republic, is the Senate of the United States.”

Another impeachment manager, Rep. Joe Neguse, Colorado Democrat, also personalized the attack for senators.

“Like every one of you, I was in the Capitol on Jan. 6,” Mr. Neguse said. “Like every one of you, I was evacuated as this violent mob stormed the Capitol’s gates. What you experienced that day, what I experienced that day, what our country experienced that day — is the Framers’ worst nightmare come to life. Presidents can’t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened.”

The second impeachment trial of Mr. Trump started Tuesday with Democrats vowing to hold Mr. Trump accountable for the riot at the Capitol, and most Republican senators calling the trial an unconstitutional waste of time.

Nine House Democratic impeachment managers led by Mr. Raskin walked across the Capitol shortly before 1 p.m to the Senate chamber where, a month earlier, Trump supporters had forced their way in to stop the counting of the Electoral College results of the presidential election.

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the presiding officer of the trial, banged the gavel and convened the court of impeachment.

Mr. Raskin said the impeachment case is “based on cold, hard facts.” Then he showed senators a lengthy video montage of the attack on Jan. 6, beginning with Mr. Trump’s speech to supporters near the White House.

“We will stop the steal,” Mr. Trump said, urging the crowd to walk to the Capitol. “We won this election, and we won it in a landslide.” 

The video includes a clip of then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, on the Senate floor backing the Electoral College results as fair and free. Outside, Trump supporters were trying to force their way in.

What followed on the video were scenes now familiar to most Americans: people fighting with police outside the Capitol, chanting “fight for Trump,” and eventually breaching the Capitol’s defense to storm inside. Lawmakers were evacuated as demonstrators smashed windows, broke down doors and invaded the House and Senate chambers.

Mr. Raskin said at the end of the video, “If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York called the impeachment case “the gravest charges ever brought against a president of the United States in American history.”

The article of impeachment alleges that Mr. Trump incited the riot, in hopes of stopping congressional certification of President Biden’s victory. The House impeached Mr. Trump on Jan. 13, one week before his term ended.

The proceedings on Tuesday are devoted to a debate on whether it’s constitutional to put a former president on trial. Republicans say it’s unconstitutional because Mr. Trump is a private citizen who can no longer be removed from office.

Democrats say Mr. Trump must face consequences for his actions in firing up the crowd with allegations that the election was “stolen” from him. Five people died in the chaos — a Capitol police officer, and four Trump supporters, one of whom was fatally shot by a police officer.

A simple majority vote on the constitutionality of the trial will allow the proceedings to resume on Wednesday, when the impeachment managers will begin to present their case.

Democrats are urging Republicans to keep an open mind about the evidence against Mr. Trump, but his acquittal is not in doubt. Seventeen Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats to reach the two-thirds vote needed to convict Mr. Trump.

In a test vote two weeks ago, only five GOP senators agreed that the trial is constitutional.

If Mr. Trump were convicted, Democrats would then seek a majority vote to bar him from ever holding federal office again.

Because Mr. Trump is no longer president, Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. opted not to preside at the trial. Instead, Mr. Leahy is serving in that role.

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