U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

Letters From Ben

January 7, 2023

Indelible History

Dear Fellow Marylanders:

There are key dates in American history that will always have deeper meaning besides the number on a calendar. July 4 (Independence Day). June 19 (Juneteenth/End of slavery). December 7 (Pearl Harbor). November 22 (President Kennedy assassination). September 11 (2001 terror attacks). I’m sure right now you are thinking of a few others indelibly marked on your mental calendar.

Two years ago, collectively, we added January 6 to this fateful list. America has been a beacon of hope and democracy throughout our history, but on January 6, 2021, our democracy was shaken to its core and our nation’s historic streak of peacefully transferring power from one chief executive to the next was broken.

The violent insurrection and invasion of the U.S. Capitol that transpired – the first mass breach of the Capitol since the British invasion during War of 1812 – was the culmination of a deliberate and premeditated campaign to undermine and overturn legitimate election results and the will of the American people. An angry mob, stirred up for months by former president Trump and incited again that very morning, pushed past security barriers, beat police officers with flag poles, sprayed them with bear repellant, and chased them through corridors. This was far from ‘legitimate political discourse.’

Democracy is fragile, but it is resilient.

The mob did not win the day thanks to the heroism of officers of the Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), congressional staffers and others on the scene. Sadly, lives were lost and many survivors bear physical, mental and emotional scars to this day. But many more lives were saved, and the rule of law prevailed.

I join the nation in honoring the memory of the police officers who lost their lives on that violent day and shortly afterwards. While much of it was captured on camera, we will never fully know the abuse they endured. We also honor the election workers who upheld the law and ensured a free and fair election across every state.

On Friday, January 6, President Joe Biden gathered Capitol Police officers Eugene Goodman, Caroline Edwards, Harry Dunn and Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell; MPD officer Daniel Hodges and former MPD officer Michael Fanone; the family of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick; as well as Shaye Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman, election workers from Fulton, Ga.; Arizona House speaker Rusty Bowers; former Philadelphia city commissioner Al Schmidt; and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to award them the Presidential Citizens Medal.

This award is one of our country’s highest civilian honors and is presented to individuals who have “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.” These officers defended the Capitol during the insurrection at great personal risk and injury. Officer Sicknick died the next day. The election officials resisted immense pressure, threats of violence and harassment to overturn election results. All put their nation, the functioning of our democracy and the rule of law ahead of personal safety.

A detailed account of the planning and execution of the January 6 insurrection and efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election is now available for the public and history thanks to the dedication and determination of the bipartisan January 6th Committee. The members deserve high praise for their detailed investigation and report, as well as recommendations and next steps to prevent another such disaster. And thanks go to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department (DOJ) for its ongoing investigation and successful prosecutions against those who sought to delegitimize our rightful elected officials. The largest criminal investigation in DOJ history has brought more than 900 arrests, with more to come.

Democracy is resilient, but it takes all of us to keep it strong and functioning.

Instead of giving into fear and losing focus, many of us in Congress channeled our energy into sealing any perceived ‘crack’ in our legal system that emboldened the bad actors. As a member of a bipartisan working group, I was deeply involved in developing legislation that modernized the Electoral Count Reform of 1887 Act. Approved in December as part of the FY23 Omnibus Appropriations, we made it easier for Congress to identify a single, conclusive slate of presidential electors for each state, reduced the likelihood of frivolous objections against electors and reiterated the purely ceremonial role the vice president has in this process.

Remarkably, after being debunked over and over, the conspiracy theories and lies continue. Hate speech and extremism have taken root, including among some members of the U.S. Congress. So we must continue to stand united to defend our nation from all enemies foreign and domestic. We will continue to uphold civil rights while also protecting our national security and the rule of law. We must further strengthen our election infrastructure and enhance voting rights for all Americans.

I am confident that ‘We the People’ will keep this nation strong and free on January 6 and every day.

Thank you for your time this weekend. Please feel free to reply to this email with your thoughts on this and any other topic. I appreciate hearing from Marylanders about what is of utmost concern to you.

Stay well.

    Ben Cardin