Just hours after President Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense on the White House lawn by encouraging Ukraine and China to investigate a top political rival, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst defended the President’s mental health.
“I think I would probably be upset if someone was constantly on me like that, too,” Ernst said when asked by a reporter whether she was concerned about the President’s mental state. “But I can only handle myself. I can’t control what the President does or doesn’t do.”
Ernst said she has read the whistle blower report and “just based on its face value, I don’t think there is anything there, per se.”
Ernst made the comments in Templeton, Iowa this afternoon following a town hall meeting.
Amy Haskins, a 43 year-old from Manning, Iowa, asked Ernst why she’s been silent on Trump’s impending impeachment.
“Your silence is support him,” Haskins said to applause from the crowd. “When are you going to start standing up and actually be there for us?”
“I can say, ‘yay, nay, whatever,’ the President is going to do what the President is going to do,” Ernst said. “It’s up to us as members of Congress to continue working with our allies and making sure that we remain strong in the face of adversity.”
Haskins responded by noting that Trump is alienating other countries by making fun of them on Twitter and then saying how much he loves North Korea and Russia. Ernst said she can’t speak for the President, to which Haskins replied, “I know you can’t for speak for him, but you can speak for yourself.”
“And I do,” Ernst replied. “And I have said this time and time again: North Korea is not our friend. Russia is not our friend. I have made that very, very clear and the President knows where I stand on those issues.”
Ernst was also pressed on the safety of the whistleblower.
“Whistle blowers should be protected,” Ernst said. “I stand with Chuck Grassley on this. We have laws in place.”
Haskins later asked whether it’s OK for the President to extort other countries, at which point Ernst said “we’re going to move onto another question.”
“But, what I would say is we can’t determine that yet,” Ernst said. “We have information that will be presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee and they will call in the witnesses as necessary and it will be done in a bipartisan manner.”
After the event was over, Haskins told reporters that Ernst didn’t really answer all of her questions, but she understood why.
“I understand that, because if she answers, we know what happens with Republicans that give an honest opinion: they end up with pet names or being bullied or being called everything in the book,” Haskins said. “She answered as much as she could, but I wish she would have taken a stand because it’s going to take all the Republicans taking a stand until something gets changed.”
by Paige Godden
Photo by Julie Fleming