The Slatest

Iowa Senator Says Republicans Would Immediately Impeach a President Biden

Sen. Joni Ernst is seen holding notebooks.
Sen. Joni Ernst is seen at the Capitol during the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst said Sunday that she thought it was likely Republicans would quickly launch impeachment proceedings against Joe Biden if he were elected president.

Ernst, who made the comments in an interview with Bloomberg, claimed that the Democrats would be at fault if the scenario played out as she predicted.

“I think this door of impeachable whatever has been opened,” she said. “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.’ ”

According to Ernst, Republicans would impeach Biden “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.”

President Donald Trump is likely to put his own impeachment trial behind him this week. And already, Republicans have geared up to try to shift the focus of the scandal onto Biden. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday morning that the Foreign Relations Committee will investigate Biden—and the whistleblower who first alerted Congress to Trump’s conversations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the Bidens—once the impeachment trial wraps up.

“If the whistleblower is a former employee of, associate of, Joe Biden, I think that would be important,” Graham said. Later in the conversation, he insisted that Biden’s work in Ukraine fighting corruption “was undercut” by his son Hunter’s position on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma and that “we’re not going to give him a pass on that.”

Throughout the impeachment proceedings, as more and more evidence piled up indicating Trump made military aid to Ukraine contingent on a public statement by Zelensky saying he was investigating the Bidens, Republicans attempted to redirect some of the public’s attention onto the former vice president. During Barack Obama’s presidency, Biden pushed to have Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin removed from office over corruption charges. Shokin, who was fired in 2016, later argued that he had been ousted because he was investigating Burisma and Biden was trying to protect his son. There is no evidence supporting that claim.

Biden has maintained that Trump’s insistence on having the Bidens investigated revealed that the president fears him as an electoral threat. Biden has also highlighted earlier comments by Ernst after she speculated that Trump’s impeachment trial would damage Biden’s performance in the caucuses. Biden told supporters Tuesday that Ernst had “spilled the beans” on the Republicans’ intentions to smear him. “You Iowa caucusgoers have a chance for a two-fer,” he told a crowd. “You can ruin Donald Trump’s night by caucusing for me, and you can ruin Joni Ernst’s night as well.”

On Sunday, Biden told reporters that Ernst’s latest comments about impeachment further proved Republicans’ intent. “They very much don’t want to face me obviously,” he told the Des Moines Register.

Ernst, a deeply conservative senator, has argued before for the impeachment of a Democrat without any real “high crimes or misdemeanors” to cite. In 2014, Ernst told a crowd in Iowa that by making recess appointments, Obama had “become a dictator” and that he needed to be held accountable, “whether that’s removal from office, whether that’s impeachment.”