Now that the House has impeached President Donald Trump for a second time, it’s partly up to a Montgomery County congresswoman to prosecute the case against him.
U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D., Pa.) will be one of nine impeachment managers — essentially the prosecutors of a Senate trial — chosen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to present the House’s argument on why Trump should be convicted. A Senate trial isn’t expected until after President-elect Joe Biden takes office, but a conviction can still render a damning judgment for the history books, and also lead to another vote to bar Trump from ever holding federal office again.
“The first impeachment was serious and grievous and amounted to high crimes and misdemeanors against our country, but this one is so much worse,” Dean said in an interview Wednesday evening after the vote. “So it’s ... an extraordinary solemn honor. I feel it is a duty to our country. It’s a responsibility to do the job well.”
Dean, a second-term Democrat from Jenkintown, represents Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District, which includes most of Montgomery County. She was elected as part of a blue wave in 2018 that brought several Pennsylvania female Democrats to Capitol Hill. Dean was a lawyer before going into politics. She sits on the powerful House Judiciary Committee.
Dean got her undergraduate degree from La Salle University, where she later taught English for 10 years, and a law degree from Delaware Law School of Widener University. She was executive director of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association and started a small, three-women law practice in Glenside.
Her law career was modest, she said, largely focused on civil suits and personal injury. She thinks her second career as a writing teacher at La Salle is just as important in her building the case against Trump.
“It is what I used to preach to my writing students all the time, which is our words matter,” she said. “And they have consequences. When we lie and we lie for personal gain, for political victories, we risk doing grave harm. In this case, five people died as a result of this systematic incitement through lying to the American people.”
Dean sheltered in the Capitol last week when a mob stormed the building. She had a copy of the Beatitudes, eight of Jesus’ proverbs, inside her pocket Constitution, which she carries in her purse each day.
“They’re my guides,” she said of both writings.
Despite what so far appears to be a lack of Republican support in the Senate to convict Trump, Dean said she’s “confident we will prevail.”
“Let’s be clear, Donald Trump incited a riot and incited people to break into the Capitol in an attempt to kidnap and kill the Speaker, chanting they wanted to hang the Vice President ... and in their wake injuring and killing people,” she said. “This is an extraordinarily serious case and a career-defining vote for these senators.”
The House managers will argue their case before the full Senate, with the senators acting as jurors. Trump’s lawyers present a defense. A two-thirds vote is needed to convict, meaning at least 17 Republicans would have to join with Democrats. If that happens, a simple majority can vote to bar him from holding office again.
The other impeachment managers are Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland; Diana DeGette and Joe Neguse of Colorado; David Cicilline of Rhode Island; Joaquin Castro of Texas; Eric Swalwell and Ted Lieu of California; and Stacey Plaskett from the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The high-profile position in the Senate trial will give Dean a national spotlight. No representative from Pennsylvania was among the group of managers selected to present evidence in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year.
“I hope they see I’m someone dedicated to doing the job,” she said. “And I hope they see I’m a mom and a grandma who believes that generations from now they’re going to remember what happened in this Congress. They’re going to remember we did turn around and say ‘no’ to these heinous crimes against the constitution.”