Updated Feb 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

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

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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Biden says he could still work with Republicans despite impeachment attacks

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden told NBC's "Today" that President Trump's impeachment trial hasn't "shaken" his faith that he will be able to work with "at least some" Republicans if he's elected president, adding, "I think you're going to see the world change with Trump gone."

Why it matters: Trump's legal team and a number of Republicans have sought to use the trial to scrutinize Hunter Biden's position on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, arguing that the president had a legitimate reason to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Bidens.

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.

Lindsey Graham says DOJ is receiving Ukraine information from Giuliani

Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that he spoke to Attorney General Bill Barr on Sunday and that the Department of Justice has "created a process" to receive and verify information that Rudy Giuliani gathered about the Bidens in Ukraine.

Why it matters: The House impeached President Trump for allegedly abusing his power to coerce Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. Graham's suggestion that the Justice Department may now be receiving information on the Bidens from the president's lawyer — whose activities in Ukraine helped set off the impeachment inquiry — would be a significant development.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy