'We could have lost it all': Jamie Raksin explains why the impeachment trial was 'very emotional'

'We could have lost it all': Jamie Raksin explains why the impeachment trial was 'very emotional'
Rep. Jamie Raksin

When former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial ended with his acquittal over the weekend, many of his critics were frustrated but not surprised. They knew that most Republicans in the U.S. Senate weren't about to risk infuriating Trump's devotees by voting "not guilty."

Conservative Washington Post opinion columnist Jennifer Rubin interviewed Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, the day after Trump's acquittal — and the Maryland Democrat said he is proud of the work he did during the trial even though it didn't result in a conviction.

Raskin, speaking by phone, told Rubin, "We had a wonderful team of managers and lawyers and researchers from the House Judiciary Committee. We also had the video from the security cameras and were able to draw from the public record."

During the trial, Raskin and other impeachment managers presented a mountain of evidence showing that Trump encouraged the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building. Raskin, discussing his team's presentation, told Rubin, "For people up on the Hill, they experienced it from their narrow vantage point…. The evidence was overwhelming, devastating, indisputable and undisputed."

Raskin jokingly compared to the "explosive and deranged" defense presented by Trump's team of impeachment lawyers — which included former Montgomery County, Pennsylvania DA Bruce Castor — to Joe Pesci's character in the movie "My Cousin Vinnie." And Raskin described Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's acquittal-related comments "as good and terrible to watch."

The Maryland congressman noted that when McConnell voted "not guilty," his explanation was a procedural one. McConnell never said that Raskin and his colleagues didn't present a strong case — only that he couldn't vote "guilty" because he believed it wasn't constitutional to have an impeachment trial for a former president.

During the interview, Rubin asked Raskin how he "got through the trial without breaking down emotionally" — to which he responded, "It was very emotional. We could have lost it all. There were people calling their children [on Jan. 6] to say goodbye."

Rubin notes that Raskin was reluctant to comment on the possibility of Trump facing some type of criminal prosecution, saying, "I believe in prosecutorial independence." But he did point out that "there are a lot of criminal statutes being used" to prosecute the Jan. 6 rioters.

During the interview, Raskin made it clear that he was glad he went through with the impeachment trial even though Trump was acquitted and most Senate Republicans wouldn't vote against him.

"He is a profile in absolute cowardice," Raskin said of Trump. "He betrayed the Constitution, the country and his people…. The American people understand who Donald Trump is. That kind of authoritarian relationship is a threat to democracy."

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