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'I plan to get through this' | Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin talks cancer diagnosis and the state of politics

Raskin said he is in politics "for the long haul" and remains committed to his work

WASHINGTON — In his first local interview since announcing his cancer diagnosis, Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin tells WUSA9 he is "hanging tough," and has already begun treatment for a 'serious but curable' type of lymphoma.

Raskin, now the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Reform Committee announced his diagnosis last week, but said he expects to be able to continue to work.

In speaking with WUSA9, he said he is dealing with physical symptoms as well as mental symptoms of the cancer diagnosis.

"It's obviously a heavy thing for a family to hear that," he said. "But the good news is the kind of cancer that I've got, which is a diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, is extremely treatable. They say it's curable. They found it early in my case, it's stage 2, so they're very optimistic and I'm very optimistic. I plan on getting through this."

Since his treatment began, he's needed to limit the amount of time he spends on the floor. He was still on hand for the Speaker of the House standoff that brought the Congress to a standstill.

"I was in an office off of the floor," he said. "And then I would come in for five or ten minutes to vote. And that's tough for a natural born political extrovert like me, because I wanted to hang out with my colleagues. But I just ended up Tweeting a lot." 

Raskin offered his thoughts on the House Speaker drama, which unfolded on CSPAN and in front of the nation last week. 

"As time went on the magnitude of the dysfunction began to settle in on people," he said. "Because here we were taking up a huge amount of time, a huge amount of energy of the Congress for what has been for a century a very simple task. It was just a lot of chaos and a lot of disfunction that we had to live with."

Raskin has played a leading role in recent years as House Democrats twice impeached then-President Donald Trump and investigated Trump's role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. He was the lead impeachment manager when the House impeached Trump one week after the attack, and he sat on the House committee investigating the siege. That panel issued its final report at the end of the year and is set to dissolved when the new Republican-led House was sworn in this month. 

Raskin's cancer diagnosis comes almost exactly two years after his 25-year-old son, Tommy, died by suicide on Dec. 31, 2020.

Tommy’s death came just a week before the insurrection, and Raskin had brought his daughter and son-in-law to the Capitol that day. Through tears, Raskin spoke about their ordeal as he argued for Trump’s conviction in the Senate impeachment trial. The two hid under a desk as the violence unfolded, and his daughter later told him she didn’t want to return to the Capitol.

“Of all the terrible, brutal things I saw and I heard on that day and since then, that one hit me the hardest,” Raskin told the Senate jurors, who later acquitted Trump for a second time.

Despite Raskin's tough last few years, he tells WUSA9 he has no plans to step away from politics.

"I'm in it for the long haul. I'm very committed to doing those things I originally ran on in terms of strengthening democracy and voting rights. We obviously have democracy under attack all over the world from Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine to attacks on voting rights and political freedoms in lots of societies, including ours. I feel extremely passionate and devoted to this work," Raskin said. "I obviously carry the spirit of my son Tommy with me. He was somebody who was a great champion of human rights and political freedom and animal rights as well, so I've made that part of my mission."


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