Raskin remembers late son in emotional impeachment speech
Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, gave an emotional speech during former President Trump’s Senate trial on Tuesday, remembering his late son, whom he buried the day before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and breaking down while talking about being separated from his daughter during the deadly siege.
Raskin’s son, Tommy, who was 25, died by suicide on Dec. 31 and was buried on Jan. 5. The next day, after what the lawmaker called “the saddest day of our lives,” Raskin took his youngest daughter, Tabitha, 24, and son-in-law, Hank, to the Capitol to watch the counting of the electoral votes, he said in the speech Tuesday. He said he considers Hank, the husband of his oldest daughter, a “son, too, even though he eloped with my daughter and didn’t tell us what they were going to do,” to laughter from the audience.
Before they went to the Capitol that day, they asked the Maryland Democrat whether it would be safe, with Trump calling on followers to come to Washington in protest. They wanted to be with him during such a difficult week for the family.
“Of course it should be safe,” Raskin said he told them. “This is the Capitol.”
Jan. 6 started out as a day of being “lifted up from the agony” of his son’s death, he said, with dozens of lawmakers visiting him, Tabitha and Hank in House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office.
And amid Trump’s attempts to subvert the results of the election, Raskin said that through his tears, he was writing a speech quoting Abraham Lincoln and calling for unity for the House ahead of the counting of the votes, a speech that he ended up giving just before rioters stormed the Capitol.
Tabitha and Hank were watching the speech from the gallery and went back to Hoyer’s office after it ended. But Raskin couldn’t get back to the office before the rioters had gotten into the Capitol.
“It was too late. I couldn’t get out there to be with them in that office,” Raskin said.
People were calling their family members, saying what they thought were their last goodbyes. The new chaplain said a prayer for everyone. Then all were told to put on their gas masks before Raskin heard a sound he said he’d never forget: pounding on the door “like a battering ram.”
“It’s the most haunting sound I ever heard, and I will never forget it,” Raskin said.
Meanwhile, Tabitha and Hank were locked and hiding in the office with Raskin’s chief of staff, sending what they thought were goodbye texts and making quiet calls, he said.
More than an hour later, they were reunited. Raskin hugged them and said he was sorry, vowing to Tabitha that it wouldn’t happen again the next time she returned to the Capitol.
“Dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capitol,” she said, which Raskin choked up while recounting.
“Of all of the terrible, brutal things that I saw and I heard on that day, and since then, that one hit me the hardest,” Raskin said.
“That and watching someone use an American flagpole, with the flag still on it, to spear and pummel one of our police officers ruthlessly, mercilessly tortured by a pole with a flag on it that he was defending with his very life,” Raskin said.
Raskin then urged the Senate to vote to rule Trump’s impeachment constitutional, saying the Senate shouldn’t create a “January exception;” many Republicans have argued Trump can’t be impeached because he is no longer president.
“Senators, this cannot be our future,” Raskin said, sniffling. “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.”
Trump is facing a Senate impeachment trial that began Tuesday, as the former president has been charged with inciting the deadly insurrection at the Capitol. Jan. 6. On Tuesday, the Senate is voting on whether the trial should proceed.
“History does not support a January exception in any way, so why would we invent one for the future?” Raskin said.