Ernst, Grassley become active participants in Trump's obstruction

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst told Iowa reporters in October that if articles of impeachment were referred to the Senate, she would “evaluate the facts” as a “jurist.”

Senator Chuck Grassley voted to allow deposition of witnesses in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, explaining at the time he was supporting “a tightly disciplined legal process to get the information needed to help clear up important discrepancies on the record. Witnesses will not be called simply for the sake of calling witnesses. Seeking this information is important to a process that is judicious.”

Yet Iowa’s senators joined all of their Republican colleagues on January 21 to prevent senators from examining any documents the White House is withholding and from hearing any witness testimony about President Donald Trump’s conduct.

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Joni Ernst: Trump withholding Ukraine aid "moot," no need to hear witnesses

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst has brushed off as “moot” a new finding that the Trump administration broke federal law by withholding security assistance to Ukraine during the summer of 2019.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a January 16 report that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) violated the Impoundment Control Act when it withheld funds from the Defense Department. “Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law.”

Ernst has long advocated increasing our country’s military support for Ukraine. But speaking to Iowa media this morning (audio), she suggested the GAO findings were not relevant, since Ukraine eventually received the assistance Congress approved.

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Bleeding Heartland's coverage of U.S. Senate, House races in 2019

After the wipeout of 2016, I questioned whether Iowa’s top races of 2018 and 2020 would be foregone conclusions for the Republican incumbents. But amid unusually high turnout for a midterm election, Democratic challengers flipped two U.S. House seats and fell only a few points short against Governor Kim Reynolds and Representative Steve King.

One of my goals for 2019 was to provide in-depth reporting on Iowa’s federal and state legislative races. Thanks to our nonpartisan redistricting system, none of our four Congressional districts are considered safe for either party in 2020. While U.S. Senator Joni Ernst is still favored to win a second term, she is increasingly seen as a vulnerable GOP incumbent.

Follow me after the jump for a review of Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of the campaigns for U.S. Senate and House, with links to all relevant posts. A separate post will cover the year’s stories about battleground legislative districts.

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Joe Biden undermining Democratic efforts for fair Senate impeachment trial

U.S. Senate Democrats are fighting to allow witnesses to be called in the coming impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding back the articles of impeachment approved by the House, pending agreement on the rules for conducting a Senate trial.

But the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination has blown up any leverage they had.

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Iowa reaction to Trump impeachment

For the third time in U.S. history, the House of Representatives impeached a president. Following nearly ten hours of debate, House members voted 230 to 197 (roll call) to impeach President Donald Trump for abusing his power, and by 229 votes to 198 (roll call) to approve the second article, on Trump’s obstruction of Congress. (Read the full text of the articles here.)

As they had indicated in statements the previous day, Democratic Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03) voted for both articles of impeachment. None gave a speech during the floor debate. Only two House Democrats voted against the first article, and three voted against the second, while Representative Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” in what she called a “stand for the center.”

No Republicans voted for either article, and Representative Steve King (IA-04) was among many GOP members who thundered against the drive to impeach Trump during the floor debate. I’ve enclosed below the video and transcript of his remarks, along with new statements from Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, and comments from some Iowa Congressional candidates. You can read comments released before the House votes here.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced after the impeachment that she won’t immediately refer the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate. House leaders hope to influence the Senate to agree to procedures that would allow for a “fair trial.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said he is working closely with White House counsel and hopes to dispose of the impeachment articles quickly.

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Iowa Democrats on board with impeachment (with GOP reaction)

U.S. Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03) confirmed on December 17 that they will vote for both articles of impeachment, which charge that President Donald Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress. Their support brought the number of House members who will vote for the articles to 217, according to a Washington Post analysis–a bare majority in the chamber.

Finkenauer, Loebsack, and Axne are among 31 House Democrats representing districts Trump carried in 2016. However, Trump’s vote share was below 50 percent in all of their districts; thirteen of their Democratic colleagues represent districts where Trump received a majority of votes.

After the jump I’ve enclosed the full statements released by the Iowans in Congress, along with comments from some of their GOP opponents. I will update this post as needed. Republican Representative Steve King (IA-04) blasted the impeachment drive again last week; Bleeding Heartland published his comments here.

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