“They said they heard Trump was calling on his followers to come to Washington to protest,” Raskin said. “And they asked me directly, would it be safe?”
In an emotional argument in the proceedings for the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump, Raskin recounted the horrors of his family’s experience in the Capitol that day as they hid from a violent mob under a desk — a reminder, Raskin said, of how Trump’s trial was personal for many.
Of “how personal democracy is,” he said. “And how personal the loss of democracy is, too.”
It was not the first time Raskin had told the story of how the tragedy at the Capitol collided with his family’s own — the loss of Tommy, 25, to suicide on New Year’s Eve.
But now the third-term lawmaker was recounting it at length in the utterly silent chamber, for an audience of 100 U.S. senators — some watching remotely — on the first day of the impeachment trial of the former president.
“The reason they came with me that Wednesday, January 6th, is they wanted to be together with me in the middle of a devastating week for our family,” Raskin said.
He recalled that House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) allowed Raskin and his family to use his office adjoining the House chamber in the hours before Congress met for a joint session to count the electoral votes.
While Raskin prepared a speech to give on the floor later that day, dozens of his colleagues — both Republicans and Democrats, Raskin said — streamed in to offer their condolences for Tommy’s death.
“I felt a sense of being lifted up from the agony,” he said, although the feeling wouldn’t last.
Tabitha Raskin, 24, and Kronick — who is married to Raskin’s older daughter, Hannah — watched Raskin deliver his speech on the floor. Raskin, a constitutional law professor, cited Lincoln’s 1838 Lyceum address, warning that threats to democracy come from within. Then Tabitha Raskin and Kronick went to Hoyer’s office.
And then they heard the mob.
Tabitha told The Washington Post last month that as the breach unfolded, she thought of training she had in school about what to do in the case of an active shooter.
“That’s really when my mind went to the drills we had in school: Hide under a desk. Hide in corners. Turn lights off and turn off any noise. Don’t speak,” she said.
Jamie Raskin, separated from his daughter and son-in-law while still in the House chamber, was frantic.
“I couldn’t get out there to be with them in that office,” he told the senators on Tuesday, “and all around me, people were calling their wives and their husbands, their loved ones to say goodbye. Members of Congress were removing their congressional pins” so that the mob could not identify them.
The chaplain said a prayer, and the members put their gas masks on, “and then there was a sound I will never forget,” Raskin said, “the sound of pounding on the door like a battering ram.”
Tabitha Raskin and Kronick sent what they thought could be their final text messages to loved ones, Jamie Raskin said: “They thought they were going to die.”
Others did die, Raskin reminded the chamber. More than 140 officers were injured. Among the most brutal images that seared Raskin’s mind was “watching someone with an American flagpole, the flag still on it, pummel one of our police officers mercilessly.”
But nothing, he said, stung more than when he was finally reunited with Tabitha and Kronick, and he embraced his daughter, “and I told her how sorry I was, and I promised her it would not be like this again the next time she came back to the Capitol.”
“And you know what she said?”
Raskin paused, fighting back tears.
“She said, ‘Dad, I don’t want to come back to the Capitol.’ ”