Democrat Congressmember Jamie Raskin—A Powerhouse on the January 6 Investigative Committee February 8, 2022
On paper, our country has two major political parties that uphold democracy, Democrats and Republicans. However, currently, only the Democratic Party truly stands for democracy or government by the people. IMHO, the GOP, once the party of Lincoln, TR, Ike, and H.W. (“Poppy”) Bush has now been captured by and is a wholly owned subsidiary of authoritarian Demagogue Donald who still is aiming for a 2024 Napoleonic comeback. Under Donald, democracy and the norms of civil society count for zilch. Most horrifying, revelation after revelation continue to be reported about how Donald tried to destroy our democracy by refusing to accept the results of the 11/2020 presidential election in which Democrat Joe Biden clobbered him by more than 7 million popular votes and a 302-232 electoral vote tally. Donald, even before officially losing re-election, started to peddle the “big lie” that should he be defeated, Biden and his fellow Democrats would not have won on the merits, but had cheated their way to victory. After Biden was officially declared the winner, Donald tried to get officials in GA, MI, AZ, WI, and other states to hold back Democratic votes and “cook up” tallies showing that he had won. We now know that he wanted to get his zealots, including wacko Michael Flynn, to try to seize election boxes in swing states. Trump had orders written out to seize those ballot boxes in contested states. Donald attempted, in the spirit of a strong-arm dictator, to have the Pentagon, Homeland Security, and the Justice Dept. execute these seizures. Fortunately, these plans failed. Having the Pentagon seize ballots was even too much for Donald’s “off-the-wall” attorney, Rudy Giuliani (See nytimes.com). However, Giuliani and Donald had no qualms about creating a scheme to have false electors in several battleground states ready to take votes away from Biden. Donald also hoped to get Justice Dept. (DOJ) attorney Jeffery Clark to take over after Bill Barr left and have the DOJ enforce his election stealing schemes (See nytimes.com). When Justice Dept. attorneys threatened to resign if Clark took over, that plan failed. In the end, the deadly 1/06/2021 attempted coup to seize the Capitol was a last- ditch stand by a bunch of egged-on loonies including white supremacist MAGA followers. However, far too many rank-and-file GOPers, at least 70%, still think that Biden was illegitimately elected. Too many of this group, including federal lawmakers, are still trying to whitewash the extent of the 1/06/21 Capitol insurrection. Half of the GOPers think the rioters were “protecting our democracy (nytimes.com, Baker, 1/06/22).” Rona McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-UT) niece, called those rioters people engaged in “legitimate political discourse (latimes.com, John, A., 2/05/22).” The RNC is a major arm of the GOP, not some local Republican group in some small county. Never mind that at about the same time, Trump’s former VP Mike Pence finally stated the obvious truth. Pence noted that despite what Donald had said, he had no power whatsoever as VP to overturn the electoral results as he formally counted them on 1/06/21 (latimes.com, Colvin, 2/05/22). The RNC and most GOPers could care less. On 2/04/2022, the same day that Pence finally stated this clear truth to the conservative Federalist Society legal group, the RNC formally censured conservative Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) for their work as members of the House committee investigating the 1/06 attempted coup (latimes.com, John, A. 2/05/22). The GOP and its followers remain overwhelmingly tethered to an “alternate reality.” They still believe Biden’s 2020 election should be overturned and the 1/06/2021 rioters remain American “heroes” to them.
Because far too many people in this country continue to believe that the election was stolen and want to convince most Americans of this utter falsehood, the House has set up a 1/06/2021 committee to tell the complete story of how this country nearly lost its democracy. This committee will also make recommendations to prevent such an event from ever happening again, a legitimate function of congressional oversight. According to one of its members, Cong. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), public hearings will be held around 4/2022 to show just how severe this assault on our country was. Cong. Raskin stated that these hearings will be compared to the Watergate ones and will “blow the roof off the house in terms of explaining to America what actually happened in the attack on our democracy (news.yahoo.com, 1/14/22).” Congressmember Raskin previously headed the impeachment managers or House prosecutors who tried the case against Trump in the Senate for inciting the 1/06 attempted coup (“Unthinkable,” Raskin, J., 2022). Here’s Congressmember Raskin.
Third-term Democratic Congressman Jamie Ben Raskin (59) currently represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District (CD). The present 8th CD takes in one of the U.S.’ most affluent and best-educated areas. It stretches from the northern D.C. suburbs and continues northward to the PA border. It includes much of the heavily populated parts of Montgomery County-- Bethesda, Rockville, Silver Spring, and very pricey Potomac. Two-thirds of the voters reside in Montgomery County. The remainder are about evenly split between Frederick and Carroll Counties. The economic pillar of the MD 8th is the federal government. Montgomery County is the center of America’s biotech industry, the home of firms such as Human Genome Sciences as well as defense contractor Lockheed Martin. Marriott International is a few miles south of downtown Bethesda. In addition, Bethesda Naval Hospital, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are in the MD 8th (Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac). The presidential retreat of Camp David outside the town of Thurmont rests in the 8th as well.
Montgomery County, MD has the nation’s second -highest percentage of adults with graduate degrees. It is very liberal on cultural issues, and provided the margin of victory for the 2012 referendum legalizing same-sex marriage in MD. In 2014, Montgomery County passed legislation creating partial public financing of local elections. Silver Spring’s Leisure World has 8,500- plus senior citizens and an extremely high voter-turnout that goes heavily Democratic. Along with upscale neighborhoods, Montgomery County has large Latino communities from Wheaton northwest to Rockville. In 2017, this county had over 1 million residents. The entire MD 8th is 63% white, 12.7% Black, 17.7% Latino, and 9.5% Asian. The current Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) gives the MD 8th a strong “Blue” D+17 score. The most recent MD reapportionment for the 2022 elections will not change the 8th’s makeup (See projects.fivethirtyeight.com/redistricting-2022 maps). In 2020, Biden clobbered Trump here by a 40% margin, 69%-29% (Cohen & Cook 2022).
From the get-go, Washington, D.C. native Jamie Raskin was schooled in progressive politics. His father was a former staff aide to JFK on his National Security Council and co-founded the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive D.C. think tank. His mother, a journalist and novelist, certainly influenced Raskin’s talent to use words (See web.archive.org, 2006). Jamie Raskin received his 1983 undergraduate and 1987 law degrees from Harvard University. He graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College and magna cum laude from Harvard Law. He was an editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review (“Front Matter,” Harvard Law Review, vol. 100). While a Harvard undergrad, Raskin interned for the House Judiciary Committee. Raskin’s maternal grandfather, Samuel Bellman, was the first Jew elected to the MN state legislature in the 1940’s. Bellman became a pillar of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor-Party, Minneapolis’ legal establishment, and its Jewish community. Raskin used to watch his grandfather handle constituent services and fight for the side of the underdog. Bellman was a political role model for Raskin (“Unthinkable,” Raskin). From 1990-2017, Raskin was a law professor at D.C.’s American University College of Law. Raskin specialized in constitutional law and wrote widely about many legal topics. Professor Raskin taught his future fellow impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett (politico.com, 2/10/21). From 2001-2005, Raskin chaired MD’s Higher Education Labor Relations Board (Cohen & Cook 2022).
In 2006, Raskin ran for MD’s state Senate and defeated the 32-year incumbent in the Democratic primary. He served from 2007-2016. Raskin was the state Senate’s Majority Whip from 2012-2016. He spent most of his time building coalitions that successfully passed mandatory minimums for drug sentencing, strict gun control with background checks, and environmental standards for state agencies and institutions (Cohen & Cook 2022). When Democrat Chris Van Hollen successfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016, Raskin ran for his 8th district congressional seat. Raskin faced heavy primary opposition from Kathleen Matthews, the wife of pundit Chris Matthews and wealthy David Trone. Raskin defeated both of them. (In 2018, Trone won election to MD’s open adjacent 6th CD). In the 2016 general election, Raskin clobbered his GOP rival by 26 points. He has coasted to similar victories in 2018 and 2020 (Cohen & Cook 2022, CQ 117th Cong. At Your Fingertips).
In his first two years in the House, 2017-2019, Cong. Raskin was in the minority and had limited opportunities. He spent his first two years supporting Democratic House candidates who were running in 2018 with his Democracy Summer Project. Raskin’s Democracy Summer Project sent student interns to work for challengers in battleground districts. When Democrats recaptured the House in 2018, Cong. Raskin won a Democratic Caucus leadership post that represented recently elected lawmakers. This position gave this new group more input with “Team Blue’s” leadership. Raskin met with this group monthly (Cohen & Cook 2022). Raskin had a very strong and positive relationship with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as she did with him (See Raskin, “Unthinkable”). With Pelosi in control of the now Democratic majority, Cong. Raskin gained four committee assignments, an unusually large amount under House rules. Speaker Pelosi named Cong. Raskin to the Rules and House Administration Committees, both part of the House leadership. He remained a member of the Judiciary and Oversight Reform Committees. On the Oversight and Reform Committees, he chaired the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee, “at a time when our most precious values are under attack.” On Judiciary, Raskin was vice-chair of the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee, which dealt with related matters. Cong. Raskin, with his background in constitutional law and leadership abilities, was one of the few lawmakers who could work on such demanding and relevant issues, which Speaker Pelosi clearly understood (Cohen & Cook 2022).
In 11/2019, Cong. Raskin described Trump’s attempt to dig up dirt in Ukraine about Biden and his family as “the most impeachable thing an American president has ever done.” Although not chosen as an impeachment manager in “Ukrainegate,” Raskin helped prepare some of the Democrats’ formal arguments and spoke often about this case in the media (Cohen & Cook 2022).
With Demagogue Donald, there is never a limit to how “low he can go.” On 1/06/2021, after Trump incited his fanatic MAGA crowd to storm the Capitol, the Ukraine scandal looked rather “tame.” While Cong. Raskin, and fellow Democrats Ted Lieu (D-CA), and David Cicilline (D-RI) were hiding from the rioters in the Capitol, this trio wrote up the article of impeachment that accused Donald of inciting the crowd that led to the insurrection to take the Capitol. One week later, the House approved the Raskin/Lieu/Cicilline measure to impeach Donald by a 232-197 vote, which even received some GOP support (Cohen & Cook 2022).
This time, Speaker Pelosi asked Cong. Raskin to lead the impeachment managers. Raskin initiallly refused. He told her, as she and most Congressmembers knew, that he was broken up about the 12/31/2020 suicide of his only son Tommy. For years, Tommy had been suffering from severe depression and psychiatric help had not been effective. In his suicide note, Tommy wrote that his “illness had won (“Unthinkable,” Raskin, J.).” Tommy was one of the most caring and gifted individuals many people had known. He assisted Cong. Raskin in his early campaigns, even as a youngster. He helped create the concept of Raskin’s Democracy Summer Project. He wrote beautifully. He was supposed to return to his final year at Harvard Law as a section leader of students whom he would help teach. Pelosi kept insisting that Cong. Raskin head the impeachment managers. Cong. Raskin changed his mind. He later said, “I don’t know if you ever tried to say ‘no’ to Speaker Pelosi about anything.” Cong. Raskin later admitted that Speaker Pelosi’s asking him to head the impeachment management team gave him a “lifeline (“Unthinkable,” Cohen & Cook, 2022).” Frankly, I don’t know how anyone bearing such grief was able to keep himself together, prepare for this impeachment proceeding, and give such an awesome presentation and summary. Cong. Raskin wove his own grief with losing his son into the grief that many of our nation had over nearly losing our long tradition of democratic government. And this second impeachment trial was even harder to manage than the first. In the Ukraine impeachment, the House Intelligence Committee had worked with the Judiciary Committee. In the 1/06 impeachment, only the Judiciary Committee was involved. In addition, the time period was compressed. Members of Congress themselves were also the personal witnesses to these traumatic events (Cohen & Cook 2022, “Unthinkable”).
On 2/09/2021, the trial’s opening day in the Senate, Cong. Raskin gave a riveting speech that cited his own personal trauma. After showing the Senate a 13-minute video with segments of the violence and other horrors the rioters had committed, scenes never before viewed by the public, Cong. Raskin declared, “If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing (Cohen & Cook 2022, “Unthinkable”).” In his concluding summation, Cong. Raskin always kept his son Tommy in mind, thinking of what he would have said. He felt personally connected to him (“Unthinkable”). One of his two daughters, Tabitha, had come with Raskin to visit the Capitol on 1/06/2021. She was there to help buck up Raskin. January 6, 2021 was the first day Raskin returned to work after his son’s suicide and burial. After hiding during the insurrection, she told he father she “never wanted to visit the Capitol again.” Such a statement horribly shook Raskin. Tabitha and his other daughter Hannah were also on his mind when he addressed the Senate (“Unthinkable”). He spoke to the nation and personally to his family in his poignant comments (See “Unthinkable”). Even Trump’s lawyers admitted that Raskin’s side had the better argument. Most pundits also agreed (“Unthinkable,” Cohen & Cook 2022). In the end, the Senate voted 57-43 to convict Trump, ten votes shy of the two-thirds constitutionally needed to convict him. Raskin, however, expressed satisfaction that seven GOPers from all regions of the country joined the Democrats to convict Trump (“Unthinkable”). The other GOPers? They were still scared of and/or enthralled by Trump and will do anything to ignore his assaults on our democracy. Raskin stated, “We left it totally out there on the floor of the U.S. Senate and every Senator knew exactly what happened.” Just to be sure that the public never views this insurrection and attack on our democracy as just “legitimate political discourse,” the latest set of GOP talking points, Speaker Pelosi has wisely put Cong. Raskin on competent Bennie Thompson’s (D-MS) 1/06 committee. We must all support the findings of that committee and always remember that we must defend our democracy. And again, how do we do that? We vote in droves plus in 11/2022 to keep and add to our House majority. We must also add Senate seats. Our democracy depends on it. Cong. Raskin can’t fight for democracy alone. He needs our help.