Feb 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Ernst says Trump's focus on Bidens in Ukraine could influence Iowa caucuses

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that President Trump's Senate impeachment trial has helped bring to light information about Joe and Hunter Biden's activities in Ukraine and that this could influence how Democrats vote in the Iowa caucuses on Monday.

Why it matters: Biden seized on similar comments Ernst made to reporters last week, claiming that she "spilled the beans" by admitting that Trump's lawyers were using the impeachment trial to "smear" him. Democrats have also alleged that Trump's attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens were intended to help his election prospects, which Republicans have largely denied.

  • Ernst countered that it was Democratic House managers who brought up the Bidens "over 400 times" in their opening arguments and that Iowa has "very educated caucusgoers" who are likely to be paying attention to the impeachment trial.

The exchange:

JAKE TAPPER: "That does seem to undermine the argument that this wasn't about electoral politics given that you are saying you want to see how the mention of Joe and Hunter Biden — and we should point out there's no evidence that anybody did anything illegal regarding the Bidens and Ukraine, and Joe Biden was carrying out U.S. policy — but it does seem to suggest that you think that this could have an effect?
ERNST: "I think this does. Whether that was the intention or not, now everything is tied together. The information about the Bidens is out there. And so now it is up to the American people to decide, you know, was that a good choice for Hunter Biden to be on that board, especially at a time when his father was trying to ferret out corruption in Ukraine — having a son working for the most corrupt oligarch in Ukraine.

The big picture: Ernst, who was at one point viewed as a potential Republican swing vote in favor of witnesses, said she will vote to acquit Trump on Wednesday. She declined, as some other Republican senators have done, to explicitly say that Trump's pressure campaign against Ukraine was "wrong," instead noting that "it's probably not something that I would have done."

Go deeper: The daily highlights from Trump's Senate impeachment trial

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