From Nixon to Trump, Zoe Lofgren Is Democrats’ Memory on Impeachment

In the Judiciary Committee, though, Ms. Lofgren is viewed with some suspicion by allies of Mr. Nadler, whom she challenged for the chairmanship after Democrats took the majority this year. In the interview, she said she was “not dissatisfied with the outcome” and that Mr. Nadler had her support.

But she demurred when asked if she thought he was doing a good job.

“I think it’s a very tough job,” she said. “It’s not easy to keep order when some members are disorderly.”

The daughter of a beer truck driver and a school cafeteria cook, Ms. Lofgren was raised in a solidly middle-class family in Palo Alto, Calif., home to Stanford University. While an undergraduate student there in the 1960s, she landed an internship with her local congressman, Don Edwards, a Democrat who served on the Judiciary Committee.

She continued through law school, returning in the summer of 1974, she said, ostensibly to work on a bankruptcy bill. But Watergate and impeachment consumed everything, and when Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan — who would go on to lead the panel (and who died in October) — insisted on writing an article of impeachment relating to Nixon’s handling of the bombing of Cambodia, Ms. Lofgren was drafted.

“People tried to talk him out of it and he would not be dissuaded, so I ended up writing it on a Friday night because the lawyers were busy working on things that were actually going to pass,” she said, adding that Mr. Conyers’s article was destined to fail because senior leaders of Congress had, in fact, been consulted on the bombing.

Once out of law school, Ms. Lofgren taught and practiced immigration law in San Jose, Calif., where she had moved with her husband, the lawyer John Marshall Collins. She first sought public office in the 1970s, winning election to the local community college school board, and later a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

In 1994, Ms. Lofgren was elected to Congress to succeed Mr. Edwards. She was the only Democrat to win a House seat in the West that year, as Newt Gingrich swept Republicans into the majority, turning out Democrats who had controlled the chamber for 40 years.

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