Three presidents have faced the realistic potential of being impeached by Congress over the past 50 years. Of those three, says Rep. Zoe Lofgren, what’s been revealed during the impeachment inquiry surrounding President Donald Trump is the most disturbing.
Lofgren should know: she’s the only person in Congress who’s been a part of all three. In the 1970s, she was a congressional aide who helped draft articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon, who avoided having to face impeachment by resigning before those charges were formally adopted. In the late 1990s, she served on the House Judiciary Committee (as part of the Democratic minority at that time) that examined and passed articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton.
And this week, she will once again take part in Judiciary Committee hearings — this time, as part of the majority party delegation — that will consider articles of impeachment against current President Trump.
Speaking to CNN’s Dana Bash over the weekend, Lofgren explained why she felt Trump’s impeachment worried her more than did Nixon’s.
“President Nixon’s misconduct related to trying to use the levers of government to hide the Watergate burglary…his misconduct had to do with trying to throw the election but at least it didn’t involve involving other foreign nations” the way Trump’s allegedly does, Lofgren said.
Trump stands accused of trying to influence Ukraine, by withholding military aid to that nation in order to instigate investigations into Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden.
“What the founding fathers were concerned about, it was the interference by foreign governments in our political system that was one of the gravest concerns,” Lofgren elaborated. “Nixon’s behavior didn’t fall into that range. So in that way, this conduct is more serious.”
Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the only lawmaker to have worked on three congressional impeachment probes says that President Trump's conduct involving Ukraine "is more serious" than former President Nixon's Watergate scandal https://t.co/5BGdsy5iv3
— CNN (@CNN) December 1, 2019
As far as Clinton’s impeachment, Lofgren described his actions as far less concerning. “Lying about sex does not disrupt the constitutional order,” she said.
Others have agreed with Lofgren’s assessments, pointing out that more evidence seems to be coming out within these hearings than did in previous presidents’ impeachment inquiries.
John Dean, who served as a former White House counsel under Nixon, said that witnesses testifying in the impeachment proceedings earlier last month had provided more evidence “than they had against Richard Nixon to impeach him,” according to reporting from Huff Post.
While there was plenty of damaging testimony against Nixon, it wasn’t as bad as what Trump is now facing because the present-day depositions have provided evidence of wrongdoing already, Dean said. With Nixon, while the testimonies were revealing of his character flaws, it wasn’t until evidence of tapes detailing his wrongdoing came forward that things began to unravel, Dean suggested.