House impeachment managers on Thursday concluded their case against Donald Trump, urging senators to convict the former President for inciting the insurrectionists that attacked the US Capitol on January 6, with lead manager Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, delivering the team’s closing argument.
Read his remarks below:
Mr. President, Members of the Senate, first of all, thank you for your close attention and seriousness of purpose that you’ve demonstrated over the last few days. Thank you also for your courtesy to the House Managers as we have come over here, strangers in a strange land, to make our case before this distinguished and august body.
We are about to close, and I am proud that our Managers have been so disciplined and so focused. I think we are closing somewhere between five and six hours under the time you have allotted to us but we think we’ve been able to tell you everything we need to say. We will obviously have an opportunity to address questions and to do a final closing when we get there.
I just wanted to leave you with a few thoughts and, again, I’m not going to re-traumatize you by going through the evidence once again. I just wanted to leave you with a few thoughts to consider as you enter upon this very high and difficult duty that you have, to render impartial justice in this case, as you have all sworn to do.
I wanted to start simply by saying that in the history of humanity, democracy is an extremely rare and fragile and transitory thing. Abraham Lincoln knew that when he spoke from the battlefield and vowed that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the Earth.
He was speaking not long after the Republic was created, and he was trying to prove that point, that we would not allow it to perish from the Earth.
For most of history, the norm has been dictators, autocrats, bullies, despots, tyrants, cowards who take over our governments. For most of the history of the world, and that’s why America is such a miracle.
We were founded on the extraordinary principles of the inalienable rights of the people and the consent of the governed and the fundamental equality of all of us.
When Lincoln said government of the people, by the people, and for the people and he harkened back to The Declaration of Independence when he said four score, seven years ago, he knew that wasn’t how we started. We started imperfectly. We started as a slave Republic.
Lincoln knew that but he was struggling to make the country better. However flawed the Founders were as men in their times, they inscribed in the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution all the beautiful principles that we needed to open America up to successive waves of political struggle and constitutional change and transformation in the country so we really would become something much more like Lincoln’s beautiful vision of government of the people, by the people and for the people–the world’s greatest multiracial, multi-religious, multi-ethnic constitutional democracy, the envy of the world.
Tom Paine said “an asylum for humanity” where people would come. Think about the Preamble, those first three words pregnant with such meaning: “We the People” and then all of the purposes of our government put into that one action-packed sentence: “We the People, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and preserve to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of liberty” do hereby ordain and Establish.
Then right after that first sentence, the mission statement for America in the Constitution, what happens? Article One: the Congress is created, All legislative power herein are reserved to the Congress of the United States. You see what just happened? The sovereign power of the people to launch the country and create The Constitution flowed right into Congress and then you get in Article One, Section Eight, comprehensive vast powers that all of you know so well. The power to regulate commerce domestically and internationally, the power to declare war, the power to raise budgets and taxes and to spend money, the power to govern the seat of government and on and on and on.
Then even in Article One, Section Eight, Clause 18, “and all other powers necessary and proper to the execution of the foregoing powers”. That’s all of the power we have essentially.
Then you get to Article Two: The President, four short paragraphs. And the fourth paragraph is all about what? Impeachment. How do you get rid of a president who commits high crimes and misdemeanors. But what is the core job of the President? To take care that the laws are faithfully executed.
Our Framers were so fearful of presidents becoming tyrants and wanting to become kings that they put the Oath of Office into The Constitution. They inscribed it into the Constitution to “preserve, protect and defend” The Constitution of the United States.
We’ve got the power to impeach the President, but the President doesn’t have the power to impeach us. Think about that.
The popular branch of government has the power to impeach the President, the President does not have the power to impeach us.
As I said before, all of us who aspire and attain a public office are nothing but the servants of the people and the way the Framers would have it, is: the moment that we no longer act as servants of the people but as masters of the people, as violators of the people’s rights, that is the time to impeach, remove, convict, disqualify, start all over again. Because the interests of the people are so much greater than the interests of one person, any one person, even the greatest person in the country. The interests of the people are what count.
When we sit down and we close, our distinguished counterparts, the defense counsel who have waited very patiently and we thank you, will stand up and seek to defend the President’s conduct on the facts, as I think they will. It has already been decided by the Senate on Tuesday that the Senate has constitutional jurisdiction over this impeachment case brought to you by the United States House of Representatives.
We’ve put that jurisdictional constitutional issue to bed. It is over. It’s already been voted on. This is a trial on the facts of what happened. And incitement as we said is an inherently fact-intensive investigation and judgment that each of you will have to make. We’ve made our very best effort set forth every single relevant fact that we know in the most objective and honest light.
We trust and we hope that the defense will understand the constitutional gravity and solemnity of this trial by focusing like a laser beam on the facts and not return to the constitutional argument that has already been decided by the Senate.
Just as a defense lawyer who loses a motion to dismiss on a constitutional basis in a criminal case must let that go and focus on the facts which are being presented to the prosecutors in detail, they must let this constitutional jurisdictional argument go. Not just because it’s frivolous and wrong, as nearly every expert scholar in America opined, but because it’s not relevant to the jury’s consideration of the fact of the case.
So our friends must work to answer the overwhelming, detailed, specific, factual and documentary evidence we’ve introduced of the President’s clear and overwhelming guilt in inciting violent insurrection against the union.
Donald Trump last week turned down our invitation to come testify about his actions and therefore we have not been able to ask him any questions directly as of this point.
Therefore, during the course of their 16-hour allotted presentation, we would pose these preliminary questions to his lawyers, which I think are on everyone’s minds right now and which we would have asked Mr. Trump himself if he had chosen to come and testify about his actions and inactions when we invited him last week:
One, why did President Trump not tell his supporters to stop the attack on the Capitol as soon as he learned of it?
Why did President Trump do nothing to stop the attack for at least two hours after the attack began?
As our constitutional Commander-in-Chief, why did he do nothing to send help to our overwhelmed and besieged law-enforcement officers for at least two hours on January 6th after the attack began?
On January 6th, why did President Trump not, at any point that day, condemn the violent insurrection and insurrectionists?
I’ll add a legal question that I hope his distinguished counsel will address: if a President did invite a violent insurrection against our government, as of course we allege and think we have proven in this case, but in general, if a president incited violence against our government, would that be a high crime or misdemeanor? Can we all agree at least on that?
Senators, I’ve talked a lot about common sense in this trial because I believe that’s all you need to arrive at the right answer here.
When Tom Paine wrote Common Sense, the pamphlet that launched the American Revolution, he said that common sense really meant two different things.
One, common sense is the understanding that we all have without advanced learning and education. Common sense is the sense accessible to everybody.
Common sense is also the sense that we all have in common as a community.
Senators, America, we need to exercise our common sense about what happened. Let’s not get caught up in a lot of outlandish lawyers’ theories here. Exercise your common sense about what just took place in our country.
Tom Paine wasn’t an American, as you know, but he came over to help us in our great revolutionary struggle against the kings and the queens and the tyrants.
In 1776 in the great revolutionary crisis, he wrote these beautiful words. It was a very tough time for the country. People didn’t know which way things were going to go. Were we going to win, against all hope? Because for most of the rest of human history, it had been the kings and the queens and the tyrants and the nobles lording it over the common people. Could political self-government work in America was the question?
Paine wrote this pamphlet called “The Crisis” and in it, he said these beautiful words, and with your permission I’m going to update the language a little bit pursuant to the suggestion of Speaker Pelosi so as not to offend modern sensibilities. He said: “these are the times that try men and women’s souls. The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will shrink at this moment from the service of their cause and their country but everyone who stands with us now will win the love and favor and affection of every man and every woman for all time. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered but we have this consolation: the more difficult the struggle, the more glorious in the end will be our victory.”
Thank you. Good luck in your deliberations.