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WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today took to the Senate floor to blast Senate Republicans for continually allowing President Trump to exact personal retribution against witnesses in the impeachment trial.
Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, can be found below:
At the conclusion of President Trump’s impeachment trial, I heard some of my Republican colleagues – many of whom I consider my friends – say that the president would be chastened by impeachment.
Some of you told me you knew what he did was wrong, you admit he lies, but extorting an ally for help in his 2020 presidential campaign wasn’t bad enough to rise to the level of warranting removal from office – and that just holding the trial was enough to check his bad behavior.
You said, “I think he’s learned that he has to be maybe a little more judicious and careful.”
A reporter asked another of you, whether Trump might see an acquittal as a license to do it all again, and you responded, “I don’t think so.”
One of my colleagues said, “I think that he knows now that, if he is trying to do certain things…he needs to go through the proper channels.”
Another colleague: “The president has been impeached — that's a pretty big lesson . . . I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.”
He learned a pretty big lesson alright – the lesson he can do whatever he wants, abuse his office, and he’ll never, ever be held accountable.
He’s gone on a retribution tour – starting at the prayer breakfast – a prayer breakfast if you can believe that – continuing through the East Room, where many of you were in the audience.
He removed Col. Vindman, a patriot and Purple Heart recipient who spent his life serving our country. He mocked the Colonel’s accent and suggested he could be subject to military prosecution.
He removed Ambassador Sondland, a Trump appointee, after he testified to the quid pro quo.
And yesterday he continued the tour, interfering at the Department of Justice – whether directly or indirectly – and strong arming political appointees to overrule the decisions of career prosecutors.
Those career attorneys withdrew in protest – from the case, and in at least one case, resigned from the Department entirely.
Then late last night, when the country’s eyes were on New Hampshire, he yanked his own Treasury nominee to work on terrorist financing and financial crimes, former U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu, who as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia had worked on, among other things, oversight of prosecutions from Special Counsel Mueller’s investigations.
The Treasury Department has offered zero explanation for why they were withdrawing her nomination, less than 48 hours before her confirmation hearing.
But we can take a guess at why President Trump pulled down her nomination – she oversaw the U.S. Attorneys prosecuting President Trump’s criminal associates like Rick Gates and Michael Flynn and Roger Stone.
And she was scheduled to testify, under oath, before members of both parties at our hearing in the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee tomorrow morning.
We need answers as to what she would have said – were there decisions she was part of as US attorney involving the President’s associates that he didn’t like?
Was she aware of efforts by President Trump and his political appointees to interfere in the impartial operation of our justice system?
We need a swift and thorough DOJ Inspector General Investigation of these prosecutorial decisions – including in at least two cases to reverse and relax recommended sentences by career professionals
With every passing day, we don’t see a humbled president – we see a president unleashed, bent on turning the arms of a government that’s supposed to serve the American people into his own personal vengeance operation.
I implore my colleagues – we cannot let that stand.
The Department of Justice is supposed to be impartial, immune from political influence. Absent that impartiality, it’s nothing more than a personal weapon the president can unleash on his political enemies.
The Department of Justice and the entire executive branch are not supposed to serve the president – they’re supposed to serve same people we do, the people of Ohio and Maine and Tennessee and Iowa and every state across this country.
No one should be above the law.