Opinion

Readers React: How did Adam Schiff get into Congress? By unseating another presidential antagonist, James E. Rogan

DEMS
Then-state Sen. Adam Schiff and his wife, Eve, celebrate the morning after election day on Nov. 8, 2000.
(Los Angeles Times)

A prominent member of the House from the San Fernando Valley faces criticism for serving as one of the embattled president’s biggest tormentors in Congress. Right now this is happening to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), but it also happened to James E. Rogan, the lawmaker Schiff defeated in 2000 after Democrats spent a then-record sum to unseat the Glendale Republican who helped prosecute President Clinton in his 1999 Senate impeachment trial.

Currently, letter writers’ opinions of Schiff, who has long insisted that there is evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russians in the 2016 presidential race, are split between those who say Atty. Gen. William P. Barr’s summary of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report brings disgrace on the congressman, and those who defend Schiff. In 1999 and 2000, after the Senate acquitted Clinton, the reader opinions published in the L.A. Times were tilted against Rogan, perhaps indicating the dissatisfaction that resulted in Schiff first being elected to the House.

Here is a selection of those letters from 1999 and 2000.

On Jan. 19, 1999, a reader from Glendale stood behind his congressman:

“‘Principle: a rule or standard, esp. of good behavior.’ As the representative for my district, Rogan may lose for taking a stand on principle, but he is already a winner in my book. Those who support the president should refer often to the definition of principle, as a reminder of what they will never see in him.”

On Feb. 5, 1999, another reader from Rogan’s district said his representative wasn’t serving his constituents:

“Rogan actually follows his conscience through this impeachment drive? His conscience should dictate the very essence of why he was elected to the House of Representatives in the first place: to represent his constituents, not spearhead a partisan vendetta. Can he and the other House managers be so dimwitted as to think that the voting public will suffer a memory lapse of the impeachment’s ‘evil who’s who’ when it comes to the 2000 election?”

In the March 14, 1999 edition, a reader from Encino took issue with Rogan’s conduct during Clinton’s Senate trial:

“Rogan wins the award for, on the floor of the Senate, hurling the battle cry, ‘None of your damned business!’ at the president’s counsel. This occurred when the president’s lawyers asked, as is appropriate, to see the excerpts from the witnesses’ depositions the House managers intended to use in final arguments.

“Intemperate, unjudicial, Rogan helped formulate and lead an impeachment inquiry that should never have been started, was ineptly conducted and brought everlasting disgrace upon the House of Representatives. It is no wonder that the Senate, as Rogan complains, treated the House managers ‘like a bunch of serfs.’”

On Feb. 11, 1999, a reader from Bermuda Dunes praised Rogan and his fellow House Republicans:

“In the disgraceful episode now taking place in Washington, few people will survive untarnished. ...

“The only people who have acted honorably and honestly have been the House managers, including our own Rep. James Rogan. They were thorough and eloquent and presented a case that was difficult to refute. Rogan and the other House managers may lose the battle but they can spend their lives looking in the mirror without shame.”

After the election, a reader from Pasadena offered his take on why Schiff defeated Rogan in a Nov. 16, 2000 letter:

“James Rogan didn’t lose because he prosecuted President Clinton. … He lost because he was a Newt Gingrich Republican. He also started early with a stream of smears and whined ‘smear’ when Adam Schiff playfully rebutted point by point.”

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