Jamie Raskin, defender of democracy |  The new republic

Jamie Raskin, defender of democracy | The new republic

Julie Tagen, Raskin’s chief of staff, took him to the Capitol. For the blocks along North Capitol Street, nothing unusual. Then, south of the New York Avenue intersection, about a dozen blocks north of the Capitol, tremors: “The MAGA hat protesters flow from all directions into the Capitol,” Raskin recalls in his book. Further down, the DON’T TREAD ME flags, a Confederate battle flag, a woman holding a sign that read FOLLATE YOUR FEELINGS. They came to the south side of the building, the side of the House, where the three office buildings of the House are located. Raskin’s office is in Rayburn. He sat down and worked on the short speech he was going to give to refute the Republican challenges and argue that the election was over. Around 11:45 a.m., shortly before Trump began speaking at his rally, Raskin and Tagen headed to the Capitol, where they would meet Tabitha and Hank. They waited in a room with the number H-219, in the southeast corner of the building, near the floor of the House. It is the Capitol “hideout” office of the Majority Leader, who happens to be his partner Marylander Steny Hoyer.

Everyone knows what happened next. On a beautiful October day, when the House was in recess, Raskin took me to the Capitol and walked me as far as I could get into a nearly empty building, what was his January 6 like. The House camera that you see on television is on the south side of the Capitol, on the second floor. It is surrounded by four corridors. From the point of view of the outward facing chair, on the right or north side there is an entrance to the floor that is the common “control” of reporters for Democrats, because that entrance leads to the Democratic side of the camera. On the left or south side is the entrance that leads to the Republican seats. In the middle, in the corridor closest to the Rotunda, there is another entrance; this is the one used by presidents for State of the Union speeches. And in front of him, behind the chair, is a hallway called Speaker’s Lobby, more ornate than the other hallways, with three chandeliers and about 16 portraits punctuating the 80-foot-long hallway, the speaker’s office tucked there behind. the living room. In all the entrances now, because some Republicans have threatened to bring their guns to the camera, there are metal detectors.

Raskin was on the ground that day. Other members who were not as central to the proceedings were in the visitor’s gallery, which is accessed through the third floor. Before 1 o’clock, Jamie, Tabitha, and Hank were together at Hoyer’s hideout. “Steny was very nice because he offered me this office basically like for that week, because he knew that people, reporters and stuff were harassing me,” Raskin recalled. “And then he said, ‘If you’re going to bring the girls or whatever, you can use this office.’ At some point around 1pm, Raskin went to the floor and the guards escorted Tabitha and Hank to the gallery.

At that moment, two things happened. Mike Pence released his letter stating that he would certify the recount, which was the first time Democrats understood that the election would not be stolen; But at the same time, the first rioters broke through the barricades on the west front of the Capitol, across from the mall. At 1:10, Trump finished his speech and a much larger crowd marched toward the Capitol. A short time later, Raskin made his speech; some instinct told him not to say the phrase that says: “This is the peaceful transfer of power that we celebrate and a model for a grateful world.” He sat down. Tragicomically, the next speaker was Lauren Boebert, the QAnon devotee that the people of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District have decided belongs to the House of Representatives. At around 2 p.m., Raskin had the first feeling that something was wrong from his friend Alyssa Milano, the actress, who was watching everything unfold on television and sent her a text message to ask if she was safe. At 2:09 another text message arrived, this one from the Capitol Police: “All buildings within the Capitol Complex, Capitol: External security threat No entry or exit.” The text advised members to “shelter in place” and “stay away from exterior windows or doors.” Members began receiving text messages with photos of the rioters. Liz Cheney, who Raskin has reached out to, reminded me: “Jamie and I were sitting in the hallway of the chamber, he was on the Democratic side, right down the hall, and I was on the Republican side, right down the hall. And as the reports were coming in from the crowd, getting closer to the camera, and they were giving us instructions on what to do, there was a point where Jamie was looking at his phone, and he looked up from his phone, and he said, ‘ My God, Liz. ‘ And I said, ‘What is it?’ And he said, ‘There’s a Confederate flag flying inside the Capitol.’

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