Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) came under fire Sunday for remarks she’d made to the press during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
“Iowa caucuses are this next Monday evening, and I’m really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, the Democratic caucus goers. Will they be supporting [former] Vice President Biden at this point?”
Sen. Ernst was referring to the defense strategy of President Trump, who was impeached by the House for charges he improperly withheld Ukrainian aid in exchange for a Biden probe announcement.
Speaking from the campaign trail in Iowa, Joe Biden responded that the Senate trial had turned into a political hit job against him—the very thing Trump was accused of trying to gain from Ukraine.
Sen. Ernst’s remarks seemed to confirm that suspicion. One contention against Trump is that he considered Biden his top rival, whom he wished to smear with an announcement from Ukraine without an actual investigation. Biden has never been charged with any crime.
Lawyers for the president spent many hours injecting Biden’s name into the impeachment proceedings, in what seemed like an effort to divert attention while also discouraging support for Biden.
The Iowa caucuses take place Monday night. The Senate is scheduled to vote on Trump’s removal Wednesday. Based on comments made by several Senators, an acquittal is assured.
On Sunday, Ernst admitted on Jake Tapper’s show that she had already made up her mind to acquit, even though she said Trump acted “in the wrong manner” toward Ukraine. “It’s not something I would have done,” she said. When asked why not, she seemed unfazed by her contradiction.
Said Sen. Ernst, “The president has a lot of latitude to do what he wants to do”—an indication of the new power Republicans are willing to hand to the presidency.