us rep jamie raskin congress
LISTENING — U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, who represents a Maryland district in Congress, listens to testimony being made to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. The committee is chaired by U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat. U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican, is the vice chair. PHOTO COURTESY JAN. 6 COMMITTEE

Editor’s note: The following remarks are excerpted from the closing statement made by U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin at the Jan. 6 committee hearing on July 12.

On Jan. 6, Trump knew the crowd was angry. He knew the crowd was armed. He sent them to the Capitol anyway.

You might imagine that our Founders would have been shocked to learn that an American president would one day come to embrace and excuse political violence against our own institutions, or knowingly send an armed mob to attack the Capitol to usurp the will of the people.

But, you know, Mr. Chairman, the Founders were pretty wise about certain things. And at the start of the republic, they actually warned everyone about Donald Trump. Not by name, of course, but in the course of advising about the certain prospect that ambitious politicians would try to mobilize violent mobs to tear down our own institutions in service of their insatiable ambitions.

In the very first Federalist Paper, Alexander Hamilton observed that history teaches that opportunistic politicians who desire to rule at all costs will begin first as demagogues, pandering to the angry and malignant passions of the crowd, but then end up as tyrants, trampling the freedoms and the rights of the people.

A violent insurrection to overturn an election is not an abstract thing, as we’ve heard. Hundreds of people were bloodied, injured and wounded in the process, including more than 150 police officers, some of them sitting in this room today. …

Sgt. Aquilino Gonell is an Army veteran who spent a year on active combat duty in the Iraq War and then 16 years on the Capitol force.

Nothing he ever saw in combat in Iraq, he has said, prepared him for the insurrection where he was savagely beaten, punched, pushed, kicked, shoved, stomped, and sprayed with chemical irritants, along with other officers, by members of a mob carrying hammers, knives, batons, and police shields, taken by force, and wielding the American flag against police officers as a dangerous weapon.

Last month on June 28, Sgt. Gonell’s team of doctors told him that permanent injuries he has suffered to his left shoulder and right foot now make it impossible for him to continue as a police officer. He must leave policing for good and figure out the rest of his life. Sgt. Gonell, we wish you and your family all the best.

We are here for you. We salute you for your valor, your eloquence, and your beautiful commitment to America. I wonder what former President Trump would say to someone like Sgt. Gonell who must now go about remaking his life. …

A few weeks ago, we heard Shaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, Speaker Rusty Bowers from Arizona, and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger describe how hate-filled intimidation campaigns by Trump and his followers made them prisoners in their homes, and drove their stress and anxiety to soaring new heights when they refused to do Trump’s bidding.

American carnage, that’s Donald Trump’s true legacy. His desire to overthrow the people’s election and seize the presidency interrupted the counting of Electoral College votes for the first time in American history, nearly toppled the constitutional order, and brutalized hundreds and hundreds of people. The Watergate break-in was like a Cub Scout meeting compared to this assault on our people and our institutions.

— Government transcript created by CQ


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