WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans are largely united in their public defense of President Donald Trump as his impeachment trial proceeds in the U.S. Senate.
But that’s not the reality behind closed doors, according to Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.
“I spend a lot of time talking to Republican colleagues … and I know what a number of my Republican colleagues say privately,” Brown said in a recent interview with the Capital Journal. “They think the president lies too much. They think what he did was worse than [former President] Richard Nixon, what he did.”
But Republicans won’t express those views in public because they fear the president’s wrath, Brown said.
“in the end, they’re all afraid that this president is going to criticize them, going to tweet about them, going to come into their states and find a candidate to run against them,” he said.
Brown’s comments came in the midst of the first week of Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, as House impeachment managers were making their opening arguments against the president.
House impeachment managers are expected to wrap up their case against the president on Friday, after which Trump’s lawyers will present his defense, according to the Washington Post.
To convict Trump and remove him from office, Democrats need support from two-thirds of senators present — an unlikely scenario in a chamber controlled by Republicans. Senators’ comments about the issue suggest the president will be acquitted, according to a Post tally.
Brown called the trial a “sham” because it hasn’t featured witnesses or new evidence so far.
That could change, if enough Republicans join Democrats in their push for witness testimony and new documents. So far, a few GOP senators have expressed some level of support for calling witnesses, according to Politico. But Democrats need more support to prevail on the issue and extend the trial.
“I’m not a lawyer, but I know what a trial looks like,” Brown told the Capital Journal. “You’ve got the prosecution, you’ve got the defense, and you have witnesses and evidence. This trial so far has been a bit of a sham because we don’t have witnesses and new evidence.”
The comments echoed similar remarks he made earlier this week, in which he accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of “rigging the system.”