Sen. Joni Ernst. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

GOP Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) joined her colleague Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) Thursday in defending the whistleblower behind the Ukraine complaint that's led to a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump, according to NBC News.

The big picture: Grassley shielded the whistleblower earlier this week after repeated attacks from Trump, stating, "We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality." Ernst echoed the sentiment, saying, "Whistleblowers should be protected."

  • Trump says he believes "a whistleblower should be protected if the whistleblower's legitimate," but that he does not believe this one is.
  • Ernst previously said she didn't see any problem with the conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, telling the Washington Post last week: "I've looked at the transcript; I don't see anything there."

Between the lines: Both Ernst and Grassley are from Iowa, where Morning Consult shows Trump's favorability at -14. Ernst is also up for reelection next year.

Go deeper: Trump's trifecta

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Sen. Joni Ernst's name.

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Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a vote on Republicans' $500 billion targeted COVID-19 relief bill, a far less comprehensive package than the $1.8 trillion+ deal currently being negotiated between the Trump administration and House Democrats.

Why it matters: There's little appetite in the Senate for a stimulus bill with a price tag as large as what President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been calling for. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) "skinny" proposal was mostly seen as a political maneuver, as it had little chance of making it out of the Senate.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The recent firestorm over the New York Post’s publication of stories relying on data from a hard drive allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden shows the increasingly hazy line between domestic political “dirty tricks” and a foreign-sponsored disinformation operation.

Why it matters: This haziness could give determined actors cover to conduct influence operations aimed at undermining U.S. democracy through channels that just look like old-fashioned hard-nosed politics.