U.S. Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) gave an extraordinary interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program Sunday, speaking at length about House Democrats’ impeachment strategy and talking candidly about the New Year’s Eve suicide of his 25-year-old son, Thomas Bloom Raskin.
Raskin talked with host Jake Tapper for the first 21 minutes of the hour-long show, and it was one of the rawest, most emotional interviews involving a member of Congress in recent TV history.
It is clear that the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the renewed push to impeach President Trump and the Raskin family’s personal tragedy are linked in the congressman’s mind.
“People are asking me why I decided to do this,” Raskin told Tapper. “First of all, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to say no to Speaker [Nancy] 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.”
Raskin, who is the lead House impeachment manager, said he and House leaders are preparing a strategy for making the case in the Senate — even if the trial takes place after Trump leaves office.
“The Constitution talks about conviction, removal, and disqualification from holding further public office,” he said. “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.”
Raskin spoke movingly about his son, a Harvard Law School student. He urged people battling depression — and their families — to seek help.
“We can get people through this,” Raskin said. “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.”
To see the interview, click here.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for those in crisis or those looking to help someone else: 1-800-273-8255. The Crisis Text Line offers emotional crisis support at 741741.