WASHINGTON — Rep. Madeleine Dean marched from the House to the Senate on Monday, joining eight Democratic colleagues to officially deliver their impeachment article charging former President Donald Trump, the ceremonial first step in a trial in which she will play a central role.
Dean, of Montgomery County, will be one of the House’s nine “impeachment managers,” effectively prosecutors who will make the case that Trump tried to overturn a lawful election by inciting an insurrection against Congress. A Senate split 50-50 between the two parties will sit as the jury, creating a high bar for securing the 67 votes needed to convict the former president.
The trial will begin in earnest Feb. 9. We spoke to Dean about her role in the trial and how she plans to respond to some of the objections that have been raised by Republicans.
Excerpts of the interview, conducted Monday night, have been lightly edited for clarity and space.
What kind of legal experience do you have?
“I practiced law in the early part of my career. … As much as my legal training and education matters, I think they also chose me because I taught for 10 years. I taught writing, and rhetoric and ethics, and I always told my students that words matter.”
Is there a certain part of the case you will personally focus on?
“As any good trial attorney would tell you, we will not be previewing any part of our cases, we won’t tell you any of our roles.”
How much of the case will hinge on Trump personally trying to overturn election results in Georgia vs. inciting the attack at the Capitol?
“I won’t be previewing that.”
Some Republicans argue it’s unconstitutional to try a president who has already left office. How do you respond to that?
“It defies logic, it defies the Constitution to say you can’t go after a former official, a former president, for a crime or set of crimes committed in the waning days of his term because he’s now out of office. … Otherwise what we’re saying is you can go on a crime spree at the end of your term, in fact you can attempt a coup and see if it works out for you, and you won’t be accountable.”
What about the argument that the people who attacked are the ones responsible, and that Trump didn’t specifically direct them?
“Not on any old day in Washington, D.C. … He invited a mob to come on a most important day. He chose Jan. 6 [the day Congress met to formally count the election results] to invite the mob, to incite the mob, and then to send them on their way, lighting the flame of insurrection.
“This wasn’t happenstance. This wasn’t disconnected in any way. The president knew exactly what he was doing.”
One of the main Republican arguments against conviction is that it would be too divisive for the country. How do you respond to that?
“Jan. 6 was a day like no other, where the Capitol was violently attacked. Five people are dead, more than 130 officers have been wounded, so that old chestnut of an argument, ‘Oh gosh, you’re just digging up old wounds,’ doesn’t meet this sad moment. … The very powerful first steps to unifying is to take us through what happened here and [ensure] this can never happen again.”