Law schools may start booming. Students should seek to emulate the magnificent House managers who prosecuted Donald Trump. Applicants will also correctly perceive they can easily become better lawyers than Trump’s “victorious” impeachment counsel.
We CU Law alums are proud of stellar advocacy by Joe Neguse, class of 2009. Diana DeGette proved herself an excellent prosecutor, especially given she was a Colorado public defender. Unfortunately, the gallant House managers lost this battle.
Trump’s manifest constitutional violations are history now. In a trial with scant rules and no witnesses, attorneys on both sides presented non-authenticated social media posts and news clips. Don’t try that in a real courtroom.
House managers presented Trump’s despicable doubletalk following Charlottesville. We saw Trump’s glorification of his Texas goon squad harassing a Biden-Harris bus. House managers ripped Trump’s despicably praising Greg Gianforte’s infamous 2017 Montana body slam of a bespectacled reporter.
Trump’s violent rally rhetoric was also lambasted. Following one raucous 2016 rally, three attendees filed suit against Trump, claiming they were assaulted based on his angry, shouted commands. When the three stood up to peacefully protest, one held a sign depicting Trump’s head on a pig’s body. Candidate Trump told his supporters to “Get ’em out of here!”
The civil case against Trump was dismissed because, prior to the assaults, Trump added, “Don’t hurt ’em. If I say ‘Go get ’em,’ I get in trouble with the press. …” Federal district and appellate courts held these last words explicitly negated any prior implication Trump was inciting violence.
Trump learned from those court rulings. After riling the Capitol insurrectionists with repeated demands they fight like hell for Trump, he added a sentence toward the end. The mob was told they should “peacefully and patriotically make their voices heard.”
As he departed six days later to fly to Alamo, Texas, Trump was asked about his responsibility for the Capitol insurrection. Trump claimed high-level politicians had “analyzed my speech and my words, and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody, to the T, thought it was totally appropriate.”
That’s an interesting idiom, saying something is “to the T.” The correct expression “to a T,” as in “That suits you to a T!” but is sometimes stated as “to the T,” the way it was by Trump.
But what does the “T” stand for? No one is certain, but there are many “T” words associated with this insurrection that leap to mind: treason, traitors, tyranny and Trump himself.
For me, the “T” that dominated last week’s impeachment trial was the “T” in Tommy, as in Thomas Paine, and the late Thomas Raskin. By all accounts, Tommy Raskin was a wonderful 25-year-old Marylander, excelling at Harvard Law.
Sadly, Tommy Raskin, battling depression, as many lawyers do, died by suicide on Dec. 31, 2020. His bereaved parents, both accomplished Harvard Law grads, published a remarkable tribute to Tommy, who possessed a “perfect heart, a perfect soul, a riotously outrageous and relentless sense of humor, and a dazzling radiant mind.”
Tommy Raskin lost his battle. But life moves on relentlessly, as it did for the grieving Raskins. Tommy’s father went to work on Jan. 6, 2021 to certify Electoral College votes.
Tommy’s father and accompanying family members were terrorized during the Capitol Insurrection. Put through these terrible events, Rep. Raskin, a respected constitutional law professor, somehow summoned strength to perform magnificently as House lead manager.
In his opening, Raskin referenced the loss of Tommy, and then stated, “I hope this trial reminds America how personal democracy is, and how personal is the loss of democracy, too.”
Later, Raskin exhorted the Senate to reach a guilty verdict by applying common sense. Raskin cited his hero Thomas Paine, author of America’s revolutionary pamphlet, Common Sense, who characterized it as “the good sense we all have in common.” Does that still exist?
Raskin then utilized Paine’s words from another pamphlet, The Crisis, explaining “these are the times that try men’s and women’s souls.” As Paine wrote, and Raskin quoted, “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.”
Raskin’s words reverberated as he repeatedly invoked his son and favorite founding father. He pleaded to the Senate, “‘The times have found us,’ said Tom Paine, the namesake of my son. The times have found us. Is this America? What kind of America will this be?”
In Saturday’s summation, the congressman invoked Tommy’s memory again, quoting his only son’s repeated declaration, “It’s hard to be human.” And then, Tommy’s father asked the Senate to make hard choices. Some courageous Republicans responded.
America will struggle so long as Trumpism thrives. Tommy Raskin is gone now. Long gone but not forgotten is Thomas Paine. May their memories be for a blessing and a lesson. “T” is for Tommy. Let’s get America fixed up “to a T.” May we all learn from this losing experience.
Craig Silverman is a former Denver chief deputy DA who also has worked in the media for decades. Craig is columnist at large for The Colorado Sun. He practices law at the Denver law firm of Springer & Steinberg, P.C. and is host of The Craig Silverman Show podcast.