Updated Feb 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Ernst warns there could be push to impeach Biden if he's elected president

Ernst
Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) told Bloomberg in an interview Sunday that there could immediately be a push to try to impeach Joe Biden over his actions in Ukraine if he's elected president, despite no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president.

Why it matters: Republicans have argued that attempting to remove President Trump from office in a partisan fashion sets a dangerous precedent of politicizing impeachment. Ernst, who said earlier Sunday that she will vote to acquit Trump, told Bloomberg that "this door of impeachable whatever has been opened" and that "Joe Biden should be very careful what he’s asking for."

The big picture: Biden, who was tasked by President Obama with fighting corruption in Ukraine, demanded the firing of former prosecutor general Viktor Shokin in 2016. At the time, Biden's son Hunter was serving on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which was owned by an oligarch who had been investigated for corruption.

  • The removal of Shokin was a policy supported by the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and many bipartisan members of Congress. However, Republicans have alleged that Biden had Shokin fired because he was investigating Burisma.
  • There's no evidence to support this claim, and no members of Congress expressed concern about Shokin's ouster until last year, when the allegations were first promoted by Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Between the lines: Iowa, Ernst's home state, will host its Democratic caucuses Monday. Polls show a tight race between Biden, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

  • Ernst suggested last week that information about the Bidens surfaced during the impeachment trial could hurt his chances.
  • "I’m really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Democratic caucus-goers," she said. "Will they be supporting Vice President Biden at this point? Not certain at that."

Go deeper ... Fact check: What Joe and Hunter Biden actually did in Ukraine

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Ernst said "people" could push to impeach Biden, not Republicans specifically..

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