In Columbus on Wednesday, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) voiced his support for the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
Brown delivered the keynote address at an event for My Brother's Keeper, the Obama initiative aimed at helping underprivileged kids graduate high school.
The senator scoffed at GOP lawmakers' assertions that Trump's call with the Ukrainian president doesn't rise to the level of impeachment because there wasn't a clear quid pro quo.
“Because he cleared his throat between the quid and the pro quo?” Brown said in disbelief. “The president of the United States clearly was holding up something that was his job as commander-in-chief in order to gain politically and professionally and personally.”
Brown also criticized Trump’s rhetoric comparing the White House whistleblower to a spy and the impeachment process to a coup. Brown noted neither Nixon nor Clinton resorted to such tactics.
“They never started calling the other side spies, they never threatened a civil war if that happened,” Brown said. “This president attacks his own people. He attacks his own attorney general, he attacks his own chair of the Federal Reserve and we knew that he would do that. We know that any time he does something wrong he blames everyone else.”
Even if the House does vote to impeach the president, there’s a high bar for removal. Two-thirds of senators would have to vote to convict the president and push him out of office.
Brown acknowledged those odds are long, but pointed to recent comments at the Texas Tribune Festival from Jeff Flake, a former GOP senator from Arizona, who argued 35 Republican senators would vote against the president if they could do so secretly.
“So I think that’s the question," Brown said. "How much courage do my colleagues have? How much patriotism, how much love of country do they have? How much strength do they have to do the right thing when the time comes, if the time comes for that?”
Ohio's other U.S. Senator, Republican Rob Portman, has dismissed the idea that Trump committed an impeachable offense.
"I read the transcript of the president’s call with President Zelensky yesterday and there was no threat regarding foreign aid funding, so there was no quid pro quo," Portman told the Cincinnati Enquirer in a statement. "He should not have brought up the Joe Biden issue, but again, there was no quid pro quo and I think the Democrats’ rush to impeachment is totally unwarranted."