1. Opinion

Don’t think Americans aren’t watching Trump’s impeachment trial. They are. | Column

Americans are carefully following the Senate impeachment trial, writes Connie Schultz.
House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., holds redacted documents as he speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. [AP]
House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., holds redacted documents as he speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. [AP]
Published Jan. 23

It is my habit, and my ethical obligation, to disclose a fact of my marriage when failing to do so could mislead you or diminish your trust in me.

Circumstances and subject matter dictate when this is necessary. If I’m writing about our two rescue dogs, my husband’s profession is irrelevant in his utter devotion to them. Likewise, his job has nothing to do with my insistence that no husband should speak for his wife without her permission, and by “permission” I impose the strictest of boundaries. Saying, “Yes, Honey, go ahead and order the curry for me,” does not mean my husband may start any sentence with, “What my wife meant to say...”

Fortunately, like all good men, he understands the difference.

So do I.

When I am writing about President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, I must disclose that my husband is one of the 100 jurors on the Senate floor. It is also necessary, in this most partisan time, to acknowledge that he is a Democrat.

Connie Schultz [File photo]

I must include this disclosure every time I write about this proceeding. That leaves two options: I can never write about this historical moment in our country, or I can mention my husband, Sherrod Brown, every time I do.

You see my choice.

Plenty of journalists, including numerous columnists, are recounting for you what is happening right now in Senate chambers. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank caught my attention with this description of the president’s legal team in the first late-night round:

“They shouted. They spouted invective. They launched personal attacks against the impeachment managers. But they offered virtually nothing in defense of the president’s conduct, nor anything but a passing reference to Ukraine.

“‘These Articles of Impeachment ... are not only ridiculous, they are dangerous to our republic,’ declared (lawyer Pat) Cipollone.

“‘It’s ridiculous,’ he added.

“‘It’s ridiculous! It’s ridiculous,’ he repeated, for those who may have missed the point.

“‘They’re here to steal two elections -- it’s buried in the small print of their ridiculous articles of impeachment,’ he alleged.

“Cipollone closed with a request to ‘end this ridiculous charade.”’

It is challenging -- let’s call it infuriating -- to watch Republicans in Congress refuse to hold this president accountable, but is not surprising. They’ve been afraid of the bully-in-chief ever since he took office.

I have nothing to add to this play-by-play coverage, at least for now. What I do want to tell you is what happened the day before the Senate trial began, at a Costco in northeast Ohio.

We have shopped there often, and from experience, we know that not every customer is happy to see us. We support Costco because Costco supports its employees with a living wage and benefits, and this particular store is not nestled in a liberal bubble. On a number of occasions, some of the more conservative shoppers -- almost always white men -- have felt free to interrupt our shopping to make clear to Sherrod their unhappiness with him.

This is not a grievance. Our rule for our marriage: When we’re out in public, we belong to the public. Fellow Americans have a right to give us an earful.

On this particular Sunday, on the eve of the Senate impeachment trial, something different happened. We were approached by so many people that our time at the store was easily doubled. Every single person was kind.

Some said they were praying for Sherrod. Others thanked him for his service. A couple of people wanted to make clear that they may not always agree with Sherrod, but they “never voted for this.” I don’t know if they meant they hadn’t voted for Trump or that they regretted that they had. It doesn’t matter. I’ve shared my view on this before: We can’t ask people to change and then not give them the chance to.

I’m telling you what happened to us at Costco because it was clear that so many are paying attention. They are worried about where our country is headed and whether too much damage has already been done. They are the informed voters Trump fears most.

Our drive home felt lighter.

Around midnight on the first night of the trial, I posted on Facebook and Twitter that Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff was right: It seemed that Republicans were hoping that, by dragging this out into the wee hours of the mornings, most Americans were no longer watching.

Nearly a thousand responded, after midnight, and their message was virtually universal:

“I’m watching.”

And not just on the West Coast. They were watching in Ohio and Pennsylvania, in New Jersey and Maine, in Minnesota and Kansas. Many said that what they missed, they would watch on their DVRs. “Some of us have to work,” one person wrote, “but I watch when I can.”

Schedules were changed, bedtimes abandoned. It’s what a patriot does.

Republicans have done all they could to thwart a fair trial. At the end of it, they will have their say.

American voters will have the final word.

And they’ve been watching.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two non-fiction books, including “...and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. Her novel, “The Daughters of Erietown,” will be published by Random House in Spring 2020. To find out more about Connie Schultz ( and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at



  1. Megan Davila, 25, a Child Protection Investigator in training, along with Jacque Salary, 46, a Child Protection Investigator and mentor for almost seven years, pictured with their case files in the family visitation room at the Child Protection Investigation Division of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Investigators are the front line of the foster care system, responsible for sometimes life-or-death decisions about whether to remove a child because of issues like domestic violence and drug use in the home.
  2. The Florida Senate is taking one step forward this year on criminal justice reform – requiring racial and ethnic impact statements for legislation we consider, writes State Sen. Jeff Brandes.
  3. Joey Cousin, a transgender student from Broward county and an opponent of the SB 404, known as the "parental consent" bill, speaks at a press conference at the Capitol. The bill requires girls under the age of 18 get a parent's consent before having an abortion was approved Wednesday in its final committee stop.
  4. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is advocating for a statewide policy of paid family leave for all Floridians.
  5. Pasco County community news
  6. Florida has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. [Courtesy of Clearwater Police]
  7. Our democracy is under unprecedented attack from overseas, but the federal government has been unable or unwilling to protect our campaign-finance system.
  8. Cars sit locked in evening rush hour traffic on Dale Mabry near Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The Hillsborough County Commission will discuss Wednesday whether to prepare a transportation tax for the November ballot now that the fate of the current tax rests with the Florida Supreme Court. [ZACK WITTMAN  |  Times] 
  9. In this Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004, file photo, Tiffany Carr, executive director of Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, left, speaks at a news conference held by Gov. Jeb Bush, background right, to announce a public awareness campaign designed to prevent disaster-related domestic violence, in Tallahassee, Fla. On Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered an investigation into a nonprofit domestic abuse agency whose CEO, Carr, had received $7.5 million in compensation over a three-year span. (AP Photo/Phil Coale, File)
  10. Paula Dockery of Lakeland served in the Florida Legislature for 16 years.