On Wednesday, as the second day of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial began, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) noted that Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the Democrats’ lead impeachment manager in the Senate trial, himself fought against the certification of the Electoral College vote in the 2016 election. Democrats have impeached Trump for “incitement of insurrection” in part because Trump encouraged Republicans to contest the electoral certification on January 6 before the Capitol riot. Raskin himself has argued that Trump’s “Big Lie” of 2020 election fraud incited the violence.
“So, it’s ok for Dem Jamie Raskin to try to ‘overturn’ Trump electors but it’s incitement to violence when Trump urged Congress to ‘overturn’ Biden electors? Isn’t that called hypocrisy?” Paul tweeted, with a link to a RealClearPolitics story about Raskin’s antics in 2017.
Paul argued that Democrats had named “Raskin to lead impeachment of Trump for advocating for the same thing Raskin did in 2016.”
Then the senator quoted Raskin’s argument, noting that it arguably applies to Raskin’s own actions in 2017.
“Rep Raskin says Trump promoted the ‘big lie’ that the election was stolen but didn’t Raskin promote the ‘big lie’ that Trump stole the election in 2016? Wasn’t it Jamie Raskin who ‘incited violence’ by objecting to Trump electors?” Paul asked.
As Tim Harris reported for RealClearPolitics, Raskin rose in a futile attempt to block the certification of Electoral College votes in January 2017. Then-Vice President Joe Biden shot down his objection.
“I have an objection because ten of the 29 electoral votes cast by Florida were cast by electors not lawfully certified because they violated Florida’s prohibition of dual office holder,” Raskin said.
Raskin rose to spoke even though no member of the Senate signed his objection. Biden asked if a senator had signed the objection and Raskin had to admit that his objection was invalid.
While Harris pointed out this move, he did not explain just how hypocritical it truly was. Raskin pulled this stunt even after he had thrown cold water on the idea of contesting Trump’s Electoral College win.
“I would love to challenge the Electoral College vote because our election was badly tainted by everything from cyber-sabotage by Vladimir Putin, to deliberate voter suppression by Republicans in numerous swing states,” Raskin told The Baltimore Sun. “But it’s a very hard thing to prove that an election would have turned out differently than it did, and the law requires a challenge from both the House and the Senate, and I’m not seeing that happen.”
In other words, Raskin had falsely claimed that Trump stole the 2016 election by working with Russia but he had also publicly admitted that no challenge to the Electoral College results would get anywhere, but he still pulled a pointless stunt to slow the certification.
Now, Raskin is the public face of an impeachment trial based on the premise that Trump “incited an insurrection” by encouraging Republicans to block the Electoral College certification and directing his supporters to march to the Capitol in protest. Tragically, some of Trump’s supporters took matters into their own hands and violently attacked police officers, breaching the U.S. Capitol, and causing the deaths of at least 5 people, all just to delay the certification for a few hours.
While Democrats accuse Trump of having “incited” these rioters, Trump repeatedly encouraged his supporters to remain peaceful, even when the attack was taking place.
If Trump supposedly incited violence by contesting the Electoral College results, then what did Raskin do in 2017?
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.