Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., has it right.
The House Jan. 6 committee member on Sunday accused former President Donald Trump of wading into dangerously familiar territory with his speech at a rally over the weekend, in which he bashed federal law enforcement for investigating him.
Trump did a lot of lying and hatemongering during his speech in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Saturday. He falsely claimed he won Pennsylvania “by a lot” in the 2020 election despite losing, and he railed against law enforcement in a disturbing diatribe.
“The FBI and the Justice Department have become vicious monsters controlled by the radical left, scoundrel lawyers and the media who tell them what to do [...] and when to do it,” Trump claimed.
Lofgren, one of seven impeachment managers during Trump’s first impeachment trial, told CNN on Sunday that the former president is whipping his followers into a frenzy much like he did in the lead-up to the Capitol attack.
“President Biden did caution Americans about extremism in his speech in Philadelphia and the ex-president is proving his case,” Lofgren said, referencing Biden’s condemnation of Trump-loving extremists in the GOP.
“To call out law enforcement as 'vicious enemies' — I understand that he identified an FBI agent by name on his social media, probably exposing that law enforcement official to threats that we’ve seen," she continued. "It’s just weird, you know, that he makes everything about himself. “
When asked whether Trump's comments were comparable to his "incitement" leading up to Jan. 6, which resulted in his second impeachment, Lofgren said, “potentially, yes.”
“In the lead-up to Jan. 6, there were extravagant claims made meant to inflame public opinion, and that is what is happening here," she told CNN. "Although I think it’s meant to turn people against law enforcement officers. And we’ve seen that sometimes that rhetoric reaches people who are prepared to act on it.”
That seems to me like a significant, albeit seemingly obvious, comparison coming from a sitting member of Congress. And it speaks to a point I made in a post in August, when I explained how Republicans, led by Trump, have deployed the same playbook after the court-approved Mar-a-Lago search that they did in the lead-up to Jan. 6. That playbook, as Lofgren noted, involves the use of outright lies and threats against government officials.
And, I should say, Trump’s remarks over the weekend realized fears his critics have expressed over what could happen if he’s not held accountable for Jan. 6. That is, he won’t stop using violent rhetoric and intimidation for personal gain.
It’s no secret I’m invested in seeing Trump held accountable for his lawlessness — his actions surrounding Jan. 6 and otherwise. We’ve seen numerous people, including police who protected the Capitol, file lawsuits accusing Trump of inciting the mob that sought to stop the peaceful transfer of power after he lost the 2020 election. And we’ve seen courts uphold the legitimacy of those lawsuits. Lofgren’s comments affirm my belief that Trump could be opening himself up to more legal liability as he rails against investigations already under way.