Sherrod Brown: Senate GOP let Trump run 'personal vengeance operation'

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHillicon Valley: Agencies play catch-up over TikTok security concerns | Senate Dems seek sanctions on Russia over new election meddling | Pentagon unveils AI principles Senate Democrats urge Trump administration to impose sanctions on Russia for election interference Trump pick for Fed seat takes bipartisan fire MORE (D-Ohio) condemned Senate Republicans on Wednesday for acquitting President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests Sotomayor, Ginsburg should have to recuse themselves on 'Trump related' cases Sanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders releases list of how to pay for his proposals MORE during last week’s impeachment trial and refusing to criticize his retaliation against witnesses who testified about his conduct.

Brown blasted his GOP colleagues for refusing to remove Trump from office and accused them of giving the president to “a permanent license to turn the presidency and the executive branch into his own personal vengeance operation.”

“If we say nothing, it will get worse. His behavior will get worse. The retribution tour will continue. We all know that,” Brown said at the start of a Senate Banking Committee, on which Brown is the ranking member.

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Brown’s criticism comes a day after four Justice Department prosecutors resigned from the federal sentencing of longtime informal Trump adviser Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneSchumer on Trump intel shakeup: 'Disgrace,' 'closer to a banana republic' President Trump's assault on checks and balances: Five acts in four weeks This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime MORE, likely in protest after Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrPennsylvania Democrat says US Attorney's Office should prioritize opioids rather than 'Russian propaganda' from Giuliani President Trump's assault on checks and balances: Five acts in four weeks The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders steamrolls to South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday MORE stepped in to prevent a steep jail sentence. 

Trump on Tuesday also withdrew the nomination of Jessie Liu, the former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, to a post in the Treasury Department. Liu oversaw the case against Stone until Jan. 31 and was scheduled to testify before the Banking panel Thursday on her nomination to be under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes.

Brown also denounced Trump’s dismissal of Lt. Col. Alexander VindmanAlexander VindmanTrump allies assembled lists of officials considered disloyal to president: report Trump aide asked Cabinet agencies to identify anti-Trump appointees: report More than 1,000 veterans speak out against Trump's 'sustained attacks' on Vindman MORE from the National Security Council (NSC) and Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandFormer US ambassador Yovanovitch lands a book deal: report Trump aide asked Cabinet agencies to identify anti-Trump appointees: report Congress looks to strengthen hand in State Department following impeachment MORE, the former U.S. ambassador to the European Union, earlier this week. Both had testified before House lawmakers about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine that led to his impeachment on two articles in December. The Senate acquitted Trump on both articles on Feb. 5.

“It's pretty clear the president of the United States did learn a lesson,” Brown said. “He can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He can abuse his office. He'll never ever be held accountable by this Senate.”

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien denied Tuesday that Vindman’s dismissal was retaliation, saying "their services were no longer needed.”

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But Trump also dismissed Vindman’s brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, from the NSC and suggested Alexander Vindman face disciplinary action from the Defense Department.

"We sent him on his way to a much different location, and the military can handle him any way they want. Gen. Milley has him now. I congratulate Gen. Milley. He can have him," Trump said, referring to Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Brown’s Wednesday rebuke of the Senate GOP follows an op-ed published in the New York Times last week in which he criticized his Republican colleagues for privately admitting Trump’s guilt but refusing to vote to remove him.

“For the stay-in-office-at-all-cost representatives and senators, fear is the motivator,” Brown wrote.

The Ohio senator had briefly considered a bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination after immense pressure from Democrats who were concerned with the party’s prospects in the Midwest. 

Brown decided against running for president in early 2019 after launching an exploratory committee and touring the country with stump speeches focused on restoring “the dignity of work.”