Representative Ted Lieu, 2020.
Commission for NPR

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I have photographed Ash Wednesday for over 20 years. I believe there is a special insight in returning to something year after year. This awareness is built into so much of our annual rituals, not just religious but also birthdays and anniversaries.

I photographed Congressman Ted Lieu on Ash Wednesday last year in the Cannon office building for NPR. This was the last trip I would take before restaurants, schools, businesses and travel across the country would come to a stand still due to COVID-19.

Since then, the numbers of individuals lost is staggering. Los Angeles County, Lieu’s home district, has seen nearly 20,000 deaths while the country overall has hit almost 500,000.

When I met him, it had been just 3 weeks since the Senate had acquitted Trump in his first impeachment trial. Not even a year later, Lieu would find himself sheltering with Rep David Cicilline (D-RI) in Cicilline’s office from the violent insurrection that overtook the U.S. Capital on January 6 instigated by Trump himself. Lieu and Cicilline along with Rep. Jamie Raskin had already begun drafting articles of impeachment while the insurrection was still taking place, according to the L.A. Times.

Lieu was selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be one of the House impeachment managers. During the third day of the Senate impeachment trial Lieu said, “You know, I’m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I’m afraid he’s going to run again and lose. Because he can do this again.”

I suspect that Congressman Lieu had that brilliant insight — that taking control isn’t contingent upon winning — because he had been here before. You can’t have a realization like that unless you stand in the same place you did a year ago.