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Government & Politics

Senator Says Senate Trial Could Further Erode Americans' Faith in Government

A photo of Senator Sherrod Brown.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) thinks Americans will lose more faith in government if the Senate trial is not conducted fairly.

When former President Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998, Senator Sherrod Brown was a representative in the U.S. House. Now as a Senator, he’ll be a juror in the trial of President Trump—deciding whether the impeached president should be removed from office.

Brown says the process has been much different this time.

Prior to the Clinton proceedings, there was an investigation initiated by attorney general Janet Reno who appointed an independent counsel to handle the probe. This time, attorney general William Barr declined to do the same. Senator Brown believes Barr sees his role differently, "that he's attorney general for the president and not attorney general for the United States," Brown said.

Brown is concerned Senate leader Mitch McConnell will not allow witness testimony during the Senate trial and Americans will lose more faith in their government. "My biggest fear here is that McConnell just goes through with this, Republicans all vote on party lines to exonerate the president and the public doesn't believe that it’s a legitimate trial," Brown said. "And they won’t and shouldn’t believe that if it's done that way and it just undermines people’s faith in our government even more."

There are those who believe the outcome of the trial is a foregone conclusion. "I don’t expect the president to be removed," Brown said. "I do hope that we learn more about what happened from eyewitnesses and earwitnesses in the room."

That includes former national security adviser John Bolton and former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. "If they can exonerate the president I’ll vote not guilty, but so far they’re unwilling to testify and McConnell’s unwilling to call them," Brown said. 

Ohio’s other senator, Rob Portman, has said that if witnesses can provide needed information, he’s not opposed to hearing from them.