On Friday, Sen. Joni Ernst sent out a fundraising email denouncing the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump as “baseless” and “threatening our nation’s basic principles of democracy,” even though she’d told reporters she hadn’t actually read the whistleblower complaint that’s currently at the heart of the inquiry.
“I haven’t read the full report,” Ernst told Robert Costa of the Washington Post on Thursday, before explaining she was busy focusing on ethanol-related matters.
Here at Cap, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who faces a potentially tough reelection race next year, told me, “I haven’t read the full report.” But, she added, “If you do want to talk about ethanol, I am happy to talk about ethanol because that’s where all my efforts are right now.”
— Robert Costa (@costareports) September 26, 2019
Several other media outlets reported Ernst’s claim that she couldn’t address the issues raised by the complaint because she hadn’t read it.
On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the House Intelligence Committee released an unclassified version of the whistleblower’s complaint alleging that Trump was using his office to manipulate U.S. foreign policy for his own personal benefit, and misusing the classification system for top-secret information to hide that potentially illegal action.
The complaint, as released by the committee, is only nine pages long. An online recording of a professional narrator slowly reading the report in its entirety is slightly less than 30 minutes in length.
Little Village emailed Ernst’s Senate office on Monday morning to ask if the senator has finally read the complaint, but has not yet received a reply.
The fundraising email sent with Ernst’s signature said, “You see, [recipient’s name], just this week the Left went further than we thought they would, bringing a baseless impeachment inquiry against President Trump and threatening our nation’s basic principles of democracy.”
On Tuesday, following Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement of the impeachment inquiry, Ernst issued a written statement denouncing it.
“House Democrats have spent more than two years — since the morning of November 9, 2016 — engaging in antics to undermine President Trump,” Ernst wrote. “The fact that they are pushing for impeachment is no surprise, as their motives have always been crystal clear.”
According to the redacted version of the whistleblower complaint released Wednesday, Trump attempted to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into opening an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, during a July 25 phone call. Trump has repeatedly stated he believes a debunked conspiracy theory that Biden as vice president acted illegally to protect his son, who was serving on the board of a Ukrainian corporation.
Ernst, who is in her first term, was elected vice-chairperson of the Senate Republican Conference by her colleagues in November 2018, making her the first woman in the chamber’s Republican leadership in eight years. She is also a member of the Senate Ukraine Caucus.