Raskin: House panel to go beyond Trump’s role in insurrection
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the lead impeachment manager, arrives for the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, Feb. 9, 2021. Raskin now says the investigation into the insurrection will go well beyond just Trump. | J. Scott Applewhite / AP

WASHINGTON—The bipartisan House select committee that will investigate the Jan. 6 Trumpite insurrection and invasion of the U.S. Capitol will go beyond GOP Oval Office occupant Donald Trump’s role in instigating it, says Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the lead prosecutor of Trump’s impeachment and a select panel member.

In a Q&A with New Yorker Washington Bureau Chief Jane Meyer—a noted exposer of the influence of corporate money in politics—and UC-Irvine Prof. Rick Hasen, an elections expert, Raskin said the congressional investigators will dig deep into the groups that organized the invasion and into who funded them.

“We satisfied the burden of proving” Trump incited the invasion, Raskin said in the July 7 session, sponsored by the Los Angeles-based Jews United for Democracy and Justice. “But in the (impeachment) trial” just after Trump unwillingly ceded the presidency, “the focus was on one guy and one crime,” inciting rebellion, Raskin continued.

“We’ve decided to go after who organized the invasion, who paid for the invasion, who backed it—and whether they’re still out there.”

The answer to that last question, he added, is “yes.” Raskin predicted that “Trumpism will outlive Trump.”

In that case, the House select committee will have plenty of evidence to subpoena, dig into, and analyze, subsequent reports show. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., got lawmakers, by a 222-190 margin to OK creating the select committee. Two Republicans voted for the panel; the rest opposed it.

Pelosi acted after Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the GOP leader in the evenly split Senate, got all 50 of his Republicans to block an independent nonpartisan commission to investigate and report on the invasion, with recommendations to prevent future insurrections.

Since the invasion and insurrection, news reports have detailed corporate backing of the white nationalist and nativist organizers, their unbridled and uncensored use of social media to organize it, and that both corporate interests and most GOP politicians still encourage, fund, and advocate such views.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a campaign finance analysis group, reports 200 major corporations announced after the invasion they were pausing campaign contributions to the 147 congressional Republicans who voted to overturn the election, but 25 have resumed giving.

Donors so far include Koch Industries, controlled by the extreme right-wing billionaire Koch family, CIGNA, Boeing, GM, Walmart, AT&T, Delta, and Pacific Gas and Electric. Some 110 of the “overturn” voters have received money, as have the campaign finance committees for both House and Senate Republicans. CREW headlined its report “This sedition is brought to you by…”

The leading donor to individual lawmakers, by far, since Jan. 6: Toyota. CREW reported the carmaker’s campaign finance committee has forked over $55,000 to 37 of the pro-overturn Republican lawmakers.

Its spokesman told Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank that the carmaker backs candidates “based on their position on issues” important to auto firms.

Boeing gave the most money overall: $105,000 each to the House and Senate GOPs’ campaign finance committees. The two campaign committees and the Republican National Committee support Trump’s lies of “fraud” the invaders used to justify their insurrection and coup plan.

The invaders, organized by white nationalist and nativist groups such as the Proud Boys, trashed and occupied much of the Capitol and caused $1.5 million in damage.

Lawmakers, staff, journalists, and GOP Vice President Mike Pence had to flee for their lives as the invaders waved Confederate flags in the Rotunda, erected a scaffold and noose on the Capitol lawn, threatened to hang Pence and Pelosi from it, and caused the deaths of seven people, including three police officers who futilely tried to stop them. Another 140 officers were injured.

Trump, his son, his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and, later, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., all urged and instigated the invaders beforehand. Their aim was to overthrow the Electoral College vote count, which Democratic nominee Joe Biden won, and maintain Trump in power.

That would have legally occurred, without the invasion, Raskin, a longtime constitutional law professor at D.C.’s American University, explained, if Senate Republicans had succeeded in tossing the votes from Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona.

Doing so would have erased Biden’s Electoral College majority and thrown the election into the House, he elaborated. Under the Constitution, the House would elect a president on a one-state-one-vote formula. And the GOP controls 27 U.S. House delegations, Raskin noted.

The invasion led to Trump’s second impeachment. Raskin led the House managers—prosecutors—in bringing the case to the Senate. They needed 67 votes to convict Trump, and McConnell convinced all but seven of his 50 members in the evenly split body to oppose convicting Trump. The tally was 57-43.

“Donald Trump beat the constitutional ‘spread,’” Raskin commented. “We needed 67 votes and got 57,” including seven Republicans, all 48 Democrats, and both independents. “But I don’t think he was acquitted,” Raskin said of Trump. “In a way, we had a hung jury.”

The seven defecting Republicans, notably the very conservative John E. Kennedy of Louisiana, have caught tons of flak from their constituents. The GOP has transformed into a Trump-backing organization, Raskin said. But he reported Kennedy told him he’s more proud of that vote to convict than of any other he’s cast.

The impeachment and its aftermath also showed flaws in the creaky U.S. constitutional system, Raskin said. One is the Electoral College, which gives disproportionate weight to small—and overwhelmingly white—states. He called it, with its “choke points,” a “terrible danger.”

The other flaws include partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression, the Senate filibuster, and an outmoded and vague 1887 law for congressional counting and certification of Electoral College results. That law lets lawmakers challenge each state’s votes. Senate Republicans, led by Hawley and Ted Cruz of Texas, did.

The flaws also include the filibuster, which preserves what Raskin calls “minoritarian rule” of the U.S., since the 50 Democratic senators represent 45 million more people than the 50 Republicans do. And it takes only 41 GOP votes to keep filibusters, and filibuster threats, going.

Outside analysts often call the invasion and insurrection a coup attempt. Raskin didn’t. Hasen noted that had Trump remained in the White House, he had plans for “calling a state of emergency and declaring martial law” nationwide.

Raskin and Hasen offered several potential solutions to the continuing nativist and white nationalist threat the select committee will dig into as part of its probe. One, the lawmaker said, is to eliminate the filibuster. Doing so depends on swinging the votes of reluctant Democratic senators, notably Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, he admitted.

The other, both said, is to hit the streets and the voter registration rolls, elevating preserving democracy to the top issue. And, they added, make sure, starting now, that massive registration is recorded, dotting all the I’s and crossing the T’s GOP-dominated legislatures have erected through voter suppression laws.

“What we need is a massive uprising…all over the place, fighting for democracy,” said Raskin. “People stop me on the street and say, ‘You gotta save our democracy. You gotta stop this.’”

 


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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