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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

Go deeper

Sullivan speaks with Israel's national security adviser for the first time

Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat U.S. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/Getty Images. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

Biden speaks to Mexican president about reversing Trump's "draconian immigration policies"

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Biden told his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on a phone call Friday that he plans to reverse former President Trump’s “draconian immigration policies.”

The big picture: The Biden administration has already started repealing several of Trump’s immigration policies, including ordering a 100-day freeze on deporting many unauthorized immigrants, halting work on the southern border wall, and reversing plans to exclude undocumented people from being included in the 2020 census.

Muslim families hope to reunite following Biden's travel ban repeal

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Muslim Americans across the U.S. are celebrating President Biden's day-1 reversal of former President Trump's travel ban that targeted several Muslim-majority countries.

The big picture: The repeal of what many critics called the "Muslim ban" renews hope for thousands of families separated by Trump's order.