The sham impeachment of President Donald Trump set a precedent that Republicans may use against Joe Biden, a Republican senator warned Sunday.
Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, where caucuses Monday will shape Biden’s fate in the primary, told Bloomberg News Sunday that Republicans could impeach Biden over his dealings with Ukraine if he wins the presidency. Ernst clarified her comments Monday, according to The Hill, saying that she was “taken out of context” and was trying to make a point about the dangers of lowering the bar for impeachment.
Ernst warns of Biden impeachment
Joe Biden’s business in Ukraine was at the heart of the impeachment of Donald Trump, who Democrats claim abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son over the latter’s work for gas company Burisma Holdings. Republicans say that Biden, who was officially on a mission to root out corruption in Ukraine, had a serious conflict of interest and that he pressured the nation’s government to fire a prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who had investigated Burisma.
Republicans have also said that Trump did not do anything impeachable and that Democrats were motivated by a partisan desire to remove Trump from power that has animated them since 2016. For her part, Ernst told Bloomberg that Democrats have opened the door to frivolous use of the impeachment power and that Republicans could well use it against Biden on day one of a hypothetical Biden presidency.
“I think this door of impeachable whatever has been opened,” Ernst said, according to Fox News. “Joe Biden should be very careful what he’s asking for because, you know, we can have a situation where if it should ever be President Biden, that immediately, people, right the day after he would be elected would be saying, ‘Well, we’re going to impeach him.'”
The Republican went on to say that Biden could be impeached “for being assigned to take on Ukrainian corruption yet turning a blind eye to Burisma because his son was on the board making over a million dollars a year.” But Democrats and their allies in the media have dutifully insisted that there is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.
Biden: Ernst “spilled the beans”
Indeed, many have pointed to a “fact check” from Bloomberg that cites a single Ukrainian source, Shokin’s former deputy, to claim that the investigation into Burisma was “dormant” and that the Biden–Ukraine story is therefore “debunked.” However, the media has been on the whole very credulous about what even Democrats concede was merely an unseemly conflict of interest, and no investigation to “debunk” anything has ever taken place.
Meanwhile, Trump is expected to sail to an acquittal in a vote scheduled for Wednesday, but without Republicans having cross-examined the Bidens, the so-called “whistleblower,” or Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who spearheaded the impeachment, as Trump and Republican allies had initially hoped. However, Ernst has intimated that the frequent references to Biden’s business in Ukraine throughout the trial may have already damaged his chances in Iowa.
“Iowa caucuses are this next Monday evening and I’m really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Democratic caucus-goers,” she said last week, according to Fox. “Will they be supporting Vice President Biden at this point?”
Biden responded to Ernst’s comments by capitalizing on them in stump speeches, saying the senator “spilled the beans” that Trump is afraid to face him in November and that Trump wanted to investigate him for political reasons, not to stop “corruption” in the public interest, as Trump’s defenders have claimed. The Democrat urged his supporters to “ruin Donald Trump’s night by caucusing with me and ruin Joni Ernst’s night as well,” Bloomberg noted.
Ernst told The Hill on Monday that she was taken “out of context” and that she wanted to highlight that “we’ve lowered the bar so much” for impeachment in a way that would harm the country. However, her comments that Biden should be “careful what he’s asking for” certainly sounded rather pointed.
Nation’s attention turns to Iowa caucus
The Democrats’ impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers returned to the Senate on Monday to continue their closing arguments, although they are mostly a formality at this point and of little public interest with all eyes on Iowa. The first nomination contest of the 2020 race will provide the first real test of Biden’s popularity as Democrats seek to find their champion for taking down Trump in nine months.
Some Democrats seeking the office, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (VT), Elizabeth Warren (MA), and Amy Klobuchar (MN), will be in Washington, D.C., during the caucuses Monday because of the trial, but it’s unclear what effect that will have on the results. Although Biden is nominally the frontrunner at the national level, a surge by Sanders in Iowa has the Democratic Party establishment on edge.
Meanwhile, Biden has continued to rebuke anyone, including journalists and Iowan voters, who asks questions about his son’s business. So much for transparency.