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Sen. Joni Ernst says her comments on impeaching Joe Biden were 'taken out of context'

Des Moines Register logo Des Moines Register 2/3/2020 Savannah Behrmann and Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said Monday that her comments suggesting  Republicans could move to impeach former Vice President Joe Biden over Ukraine if he were elected president were “taken entirely out of context.”

Ernst said Sunday: "I think this door of impeachable whatever has been opened. 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.'"

On Monday, Ernst walked back her comments when speaking to reporters. “The point is that the Democrats have lowered the bar so far,” she said. “Regardless of who it is, if you have a different party in the House than that of an elected president, you could have just random comments thrown out there with folks saying, ‘We’re going to impeach.' 

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“I didn't say what guidelines were” for impeachment,  she said – rather "that we've lowered the bar so much, is this really what the American people want? And I would say no.”

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However, Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said threats such as Ernst’s were “irresponsible.”

“The bar remains very, very high,” he said.

When asked about the issue, Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., dismissed Ernst's comments as not having “heard” them but said he hopes the standard for impeachment rises. 

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“There is a reason the standard is so high and the bar is so high, and Democrats have violated them this year, and I hope this is a lesson to all of us. And by the way, Republicans didn't do a lot better with Bill Clinton, so unless we want to have these things every decade or so, we should get back to a higher standard,” he said.

In an interview Sunday with the Des Moines Register, part of the USA TODAY Network, Biden said Ernst's comments and Trump's decision to ask Ukraine to investigate his actions overseeing foreign policy in that country show that the president is afraid of running against him. 

"She just reinforces everything that was the reason why the president was being impeached: They very much don’t want to face me obviously," Biden told the Register. "I’ve never seen a sitting president and his allies this frightened about who may be the nominee."

The two have been sparring for a few weeks. Just last week, Ernst alluded to whether Trump's impeachment trial might damage Biden in the caucuses, asking of Iowa voters, "Those Democratic caucusgoers, will they be supporting Vice President Biden at this point?"

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sen. Joni Ernst says her comments on impeaching Joe Biden were 'taken out of context'


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