After Months of Dodging Questions, Ernst Says It’s Okay for a President to Abuse Their Power for Their Own Partisan Gain

After repeatedly dodging questions on whether it’s appropriate for a president to pressure foreign governments to interfere in American elections, today Senator Joni Ernst went one step further. Asked about President Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Ernst made it clear that she thinks Trump shouldn’t be held accountable, stating, “He will do what he wants to do.” 

“Senator Ernst’s craven complicity in Mitch McConnell’s attempted cover-up sends a clear message: her oath to Iowans comes second to her own political ambitions,” said Jeremy Busch, Iowa Democratic Party spokesperson. “Iowans deserve an independent voice in the Senate who will put them first – no matter the political costs. But for Senator Ernst, there is no price she won’t pay to stand with her Washington party leaders in a desperate attempt to salvage her vulnerable re-election.”

Senator Ernst has been facing scathing criticism at home over her refusal to condemn pressuring foreign governments to investigate political rivals:

Quad-City Times Editorial: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

  • Thumbs Down… to U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst for dodging questions on whether it’s right for a president to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival. The obvious answer is: “Of course not.”
  • Unfortunately, Ernst did the DC-two-step when asked this question this week.
  • But there comes a time when politicians should be willing to speak their values, rather than their political interests. Engage in a little straight talk, if you will. Instead, Ernst deflected.
  • In 2014, Ernst ran as an outsider, somebody who would bring Iowa common sense to Washington, D.C. She didn’t do it in this case.

Cedar Rapids Gazette Editorial: On Ukraine affair, Iowans expect more from Grassley and Ernst

  • [Senators Ernst and Grassley] have spent more time criticizing Democratic colleagues than holding the president accountable for potentially illegal activity.
  • Iowans will expect our senators to weigh the facts in an impartial, non-partisan manner. Too bad for Iowans, it appears Ernst and Grassley have already made up their minds.

Iowa Starting Line: Joni Ernst Refuses to Condemn Soliciting Foreign Interference

  • Three times in a row yesterday, Sen. Joni Ernst dodged questions about whether it’s appropriate for a president to ask a foreign power to investigate a political rival.
  • After a round of questions from a CNN reporter looking for a “yes” or “no” answer from Ernst, the senator walked away and talked with a few Iowans who happened to be on scene.
  • The reporter then said: “We are not asking you to rule on it, we’re just asking you if the ask itself is appropriate?” At that point Ernst said, “Let’s move on,” turned around, and walked away from the reporter. 

CNN: GOP Senator refuses to answer if Trump acted inappropriately

  • “Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) was unwilling to answer CNN correspondent Randi Kaye when asked if she thought it was appropriate for President Trump to ask a foreign power to investigate a political rival.” (full video)

MSNBC: Iowa’s Ernst struggles with question at the heart of Trump scandal

  • Ernst’s refusal to answer the question made for a cringe-worthy display. The fact that she kept saying she didn’t have information on the subject made matters worse, given the fact that Trump stood on the South Lawn of the White House and literally called for foreign governments to target Joe Biden.