Ernst, Grassley silent on reported bounty on U.S. troops in Afghanistan

As Donald Trump’s presidency continues to spawn scandals that would seem farfetched as a movie plot, top Iowa Republicans remain silent whenever possible on news that reflects poorly on their party’s standard-bearer.

The latest shameful example: U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley have said nothing in public about reports indicating a “Russian military intelligence unit offered and paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.”

Ernst’s silence is particularly striking, since she built her political brand on (and still frequently invokes) her career of service in the Iowa National Guard.

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Chuck Grassley can't quit covering for Trump on Russia

For the fourth time in less than two months, President Donald Trump has fired an inspector general who had stirred up trouble for him or his political allies.

Iowa’s senior Senator Chuck Grassley has championed whistleblowers and inspectors general for decades. Yet just like last month, he declined to condemn Trump’s retaliatory move. Grassley didn’t mention State Department Inspector General Steve Linick’s dismissal on his widely-viewed Twitter feed this weekend. Meanwhile, his office released a statement that dinged Linick for not looking into “the State Department’s role in advancing the debunked Russian collusion investigation.”

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In Iowa and beyond, voters must demand answers on nuclear weapons policy

Joan Rohlfing is President and Chief Operating Officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. -promoted by Laura Belin

By the time voters across the United States cast their ballots for president next November, it will have been 75 years since the first and only use of nuclear weapons. Since 1945, through the decades-long Cold War and its aftermath, a strategy of deterrence helped prevent nuclear war between the United States and Russia, the world’s nuclear superpowers. Does that strategy still keep us safe?

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Joni Ernst becoming public face of Trump's impeachment defense

All Republicans in the U.S. Senate are so far presenting a united front to defend President Donald Trump against any full examination of the charges against him. But more than most of her colleagues, Iowa’s Senator Joni Ernst is becoming the public face of Trump’s defense.

She is also the leading voice in Congress for a talking point Ernst floated earlier this month: Trump has more firmly supported Ukraine against Russian aggression than did President Barack Obama.

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How will the Democratic candidates reduce the risk of nuclear war?

Greg Thielmann grew up in Newton and worked for more than 30 years on nuclear weapons issues in the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Foreign Service, and the Senate Intelligence Committee. He currently serves as a board member of the Arms Control Association. -promoted by Laura Belin

When I was growing up in central Iowa during the Cold War, I sometimes found myself headed west on Interstate 80, imagining the way nuclear war would be likely to arrive in Iowa – a series of Soviet nuclear ground bursts in Omaha to destroy Strategic Air Command Headquarters, bathing Iowa in a heavy dose of radioactive fallout.

Now the Cold War is over, but not the nuclear threat. The Trump administration has abandoned the anti-nuclear deal with Iran and six other states. President Trump’s efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula have fizzled. The U.S. has pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia and is dithering over Moscow’s offer to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the only remaining limit on the world’s largest nuclear arsenals. 

Meanwhile, the Trump administration proposes spending trillions of dollars to build new strategic weapons.

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Steve King won't demand that Russia stop attacking Ukraine, other democracies

The U.S. House on December 3 passed a resolution disapproving of “Russia’s inclusion in future Group of Seven summits” until that country ends “its occupation of all of Ukraine’s sovereign territory, including Crimea, and halts its attacks on democracies worldwide.”

The measure easily surpassed the two-thirds vote needed under a suspension of usual House rules, with all 222 Democrats present and 116 Republicans supporting it (roll call). Iowa’s three Democratic members–Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03)–all supported the measure. But U.S. Representative Steve King (IA-04) was among 71 House Republicans who voted no.

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