2021 | Politics

Congressmen optimistic about future on inauguration day

Raskin hopes bipartisan support for impeachment is possible

U.S. Reps. David Trone, left, and Jamie Raskin. The Maryland Democrats, who both represent Montgomery County, say they are optimistic about the future as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office on Wednesday.

File photos

Two Congressmen representing Montgomery County say they are optimistic about the future as President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Wednesday.

Security is on the minds of many, too, because of a Jan. 6 violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, in which five people died.

National Guard troops and officers from multiple law enforcement agencies will have a presence throughout the greater Washington region. Multiple roads and the National Mall are closed. Metro has closed many of its rail stations.

U.S. Rep. David Trone of Potomac, a Democrat beginning his second term representing Maryland’s Sixth District, said on Tuesday that he had just met with Brigadier Gen. Janeen Birckhead, the assistant adjutant general for the Maryland National Guard. Trone said that with thousands of officers in D.C., he feels confident that Wednesday’s proceedings will go smoothly.

“They’ve created multiple layers of security,” he said. “The whole city is on lockdown. Police presence everywhere And I think that show of force is gonna deter anybody” from being disruptive.

Trone said he hopes the country can put the last four years under Trump “behind us” and that tackling the COVID-19 pandemic will be Biden’s first priority.

“Joe Biden’s gonna work right out of the gate on COVID to get these vaccines out, and getting that handled confidently. And then the second piece is the economy,” he said.

Trone said his legislative priorities will include making progress on the opioid crisis and issues related to addiction. He noted that opioid overdose deaths in Maryland increased significantly between 2019 and the first nine months of 2020. They increased 14.7% in Montgomery County.

“That’s the kind of stuff we should be focused on now, and not all of the ugliness and the hate, and the rhetoric that we’ve seen come out of the White House the last four years,” he said.

Trone voted this month to impeach Trump for the second time in his term. Trone said carrying on with an impeachment fight after Trump has left office is important, because a conviction will prevent him from running for office again.

“It’s absolutely crucial that he show the American people that nobody’s above the law. I mean he’s made the comment that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. Well, he’s clearly done impeachable offenses,” he said.

Raskin prepares case for impeachment

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin of Takoma Park, a Democrat who represents Maryland’s Eighth District, is a lead impeachment manager in presenting the case against Trump.

He said Wednesday morning that he has been working “around the clock” to make a case documenting “the worst presidential crime in the history of the United States,” referring to Trump’s incitement of the insurrection.

“There has never been a greater betrayal of the presidential office than there was on Jan. 6. The president clearly fomented insurrection against the Congress in joint session,” he said.

To convict Trump, two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 senators, would need to vote in favor of impeachment. That means at least 17 Republican senators. Raskin said he believes all 100 senators “must and will live up to their oaths as senators and jurors to render impartial justice.”

“People keep asking how I would convince 17 Republicans,” he said. “But that is not my objective. My objective is to lay out the facts before 100 disinterested, objective senators and to have them led irresistibly by the facts of this case, to the conclusion that the president is guilty of inciting violent insurrection against the republic.”

Raskin’s son Tommy took his own life on Dec. 31 after a battle with depression. Despite the pain from his loss, the congressman says he always has his son “in his heart” and that Tommy has “been an immense light.”

“And my whole family has been tremendously supportive. And my friends and my colleagues and my constituents. These people have been indispensable to me,” he said. “I have an amazing staff, as well, which has kept everything going while I focus on the defense of the republic.”

Raskin said his is “not the only family in pain,” noting that more than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.

“We lost hundreds of thousands of more people to the opioid crisis, to gun violence, to suicide,” he said. “Our people our hurting and staggering under the weight of the terrible events that have been unleashed in our country. And we have to fight our way back to making our government an instrument of the common good.”

Raskin said he will work on the impeachment preparations all day, but plans to watch the broadcast of Wednesday’s inauguration, and that he looks forward to the next four years.

“I feel great pride in our democracy and in our people for being so resilient and so tough during an agonizing four years of misrule, so I am very excited about two very serious patriots and public servants, and not a moment too soon,” he said.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagaine.com