Who is Jan 6 panel member Zoe Lofgren?
The 6 January select committee may have only nine members, but several of them are among the most high-profile members of the House of Representatives. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are perhaps the most outspoken and uncompromising Republican Trump critics in Washington, while Democrats Adam Schiff and Jamie Raskin are well-known to many Americans for their parts in Donald Trump’s two impeachments.
However, another member of the panel has now had a chance to take a leading role at one of its crucial televised hearings.
Zoe Lofgren is a veteran Democratic congresswoman from California. First elected in 1994, she has the distinction of being the only member of Congress who played a role in both of Donald Trump’s impeachments and Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998-99, when she was seated on the House Judiciary Committee.
Going back even further, Ms Lofgren was an intern in Washington, DC in 1974 when she was a law student – at which time she found herself called upon by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan to help him draft a doomed article of impeachment against Richard Nixon focused on his bombing of Cambodia.
Decades later, Ms Lofgren ended up serving alongside Mr Conyers on the House Judiciary Committee.
During the Clinton impeachment, Ms Lofgren concluded (like almost all Democrats and some Republicans) that the president had not abused his power. Writing in 2019 around the time of Donald Trump’s first impeachment over his attempt to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating the Biden family, she offered this reflection on the events of that trial:
“Back in the 1990s, I urged my Republican colleagues not to damage the American people’s faith in our democracy and undo an election simply because they disapproved of Clinton and his lies about an affair. He abused the trust of his wife; he didn’t abuse his presidential power. Unfortunately, they didn’t listen, and that, in part, helped create the atmosphere for the antics, untruths and an emboldened president wielding unchecked power that subverts the Constitution we’re seeing today. It’s important to remember: Impeachment is not about punishing the president; it is about protecting the American people from constitutional violations so extreme they threaten the country’s future.”
In the first Trump trial, Ms Lofgren served as one of the impeachment managers presenting the case for conviction to the Senate. She forcefully argued on the floor of the upper chamber that Mr Trump had essentially tried to extort Ukraine into doing the then-president’s dirty work.
However, she and the other managers saw their case doomed by partisanship, with only Mitt Romney breaking ranks to vote against his party’s leader.
In 2021, as the post-insurrection impeachment proceedings made their fast-tracked progress towards the Senate, Ms Lofgren remarked on her history of involvement with such events:
“I’m the only Member of Congress who’s been involved in all three of the last Presidential impeachments,” she said in prepared remarks on the House floor. “Those were long proceedings. Today, we don’t need a long investigation to know the President incited right-wing terrorists to attack the Congress to try to overturn Constitutional government.
“The actions were in public. Plain as day. His actions are the most serious offence against our Constitution and our country. They are impeachable acts.
“The Founders devised the Impeachment Clause to protect against a President who would threaten Constitutional order. If we don’t act now, the Impeachment Clause would essentially be meaningless.
“Faced with these facts, if we don’t impeach to protect our country, we will fail our own oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and, yes, domestic.”