Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) speaks during opening arguments in the historic second Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump on February 9, 2021. (Photo: Washington Post/YouTube screen grab)

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) delivers opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump on February 9, 2021. (Photo: Washington Post/YouTube screen grab)

Watch Jamie Raskin Deliver 'Heartbreaking' Personal Account of Insurrection on Day 1 of Trump Trial

"This cannot be the future of America," the Maryland Democrat said. "We cannot have presidents inciting... mob violence against our government and our institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the people."

Brett Wilkins

As Donald Trump's historic second impeachment commenced in the Senate on Tuesday, lead prosecutor Rep. Jamie Raskin delivered a powerful opening argument combining poignant personal testimony with damning evidence of the former president's incitement of the deadly January 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

"People died that day. Officers ended up with head damage and brain damage. People's eyes were gouged. An officer had a heart attack. An officer lost three fingers that day. Two officers have taken their own lives."
—Rep. Jamie Raskin

Raskin (D-Md.) began the Senate trial by screening a harrowing 13-minute video showing footage of the January 6 attack interspersed with clips of the former president's lie-filled incitement of the insurrectionists. 

"You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our Constitution? That's a high crime and misdemeanor," said Raskin. "If that's not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing."

Raskin then recounted how his daughter and son-in-law had accompanied him to the Capitol on January 6 so that their family could remain close as they grieved the loss the congressman's 25-year-old son Tommy, who took his own life on New Year's Eve and was buried the previous day. 

As the pro-Trump mob closed on the Congress floor and lawmakers heard "the sound of pounding on the door like a battering ram"—which Raskin called the "most haunting sound I ever heard"—the Maryland Democrat said he was unable to reach his relatives, who were barricaded in a nearby office "hiding under the desk, placing what they thought were their final texts and whispered phone calls to say their goodbyes." 

"They thought they were going to die," he said. 

After being reunited with his relatives, Raskin said he apologized. "I hugged them and I told my daughter Tabitha, who's 24... how sorry I was... and I promised her that it would not be like this again the next time she came back to the Capitol with me." He choked up as he recalled her heartbreaking reply.

"Dad," she said, "I don't want to come back to the Capitol."

"Of all the terrible things I saw and heard on that day and since then, that one hit me the hardest," a tearful Raskin said. "That, and watching someone use an American flag pole, 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." 

"People died that day," Raskin continued. "Officers ended up with head damage and brain damage. People's eyes were gouged. An officer had a heart attack. An officer lost three fingers that day. Two officers have taken their own lives."

"Senators, this cannot be our future," he asserted. "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."

Raskin's remarks moved many observers—including Trump defense attorney Bruce Castor. 

"I'll be quite frank with you," Castor said in his opening argument, "we changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers' presentation was well done." 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

New Legal Campaign Aims to Protect People and Nature From Polluters' 'Irreparable Damage'

"States must listen to communities' demands to recognize the human right to a healthy environment and better regulate businesses with respect to the impacts of their operations."

Jessica Corbett ·


'You Tell Me What We Should Cut': Sanders Not Budging on $3.5 Trillion

"Poll after poll tells me, and tells you, that what we are trying to do is enormously popular."

Jake Johnson ·


Civil Rights Leaders Decry Senate's Failure to Pass Police Reform Bill

"We will continue to fight and advocate for legislation worthy of George Floyd's name," vowed the heads of seven advocacy groups.

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Set to Admit Even Fewer Refugees Than Trump's Record Low

The "paltry" number of those admitted so far would be well below the 62,500 ceiling President Joe Biden had set for the current fiscal year.

Andrea Germanos ·


In 'Landmark' Decision, EPA Finalizes Rule Cutting Use of Super-Pollutant HFCs

The regulation will drastically curb the use of "the most potent super-pollutants known to mankind at the moment," one climate campaigner said.

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo