GOP Iowa Senator Says Trump's Handling of Ukraine Was Done in 'Wrong Manner,' But Will Vote to Acquit Him

Republican Senator Joni Ernst has said that she plans to vote to acquit President Donald Trump in the ongoing Senate impeachment trial, although she said his actions toward Ukraine were carried out in the "wrong manner."

Trump is widely expected to be acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday, as the majority of GOP lawmakers plan to vote against the president's removal from office. In order for a president to be removed, the Constitution calls for a two-thirds majority of senators to vote in favor of such a measure. But it currently appears that more than 50 GOP senators will vote to acquit the president.

"Generally speaking, going after corruption would be the right thing to do, he did it maybe in the wrong manner," Ernst told CNN's Jake Tapper on State of the Union Sunday. "But I think he could have done it through different channels. Now this is the argument ... that he should have probably gone to the (Department of Justice), he should have worked through the entities, but he chose a different route," she said.

"I think generally speaking, going after corruption would be the right thing to do, he did it maybe in the wrong manner. But I think that he could have done it through different channels," Republican Sen. Joni Ernst says about President Trump. #CNNSOTU

— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 2, 2020

Ernst also suggested that Trump was wrong to insist his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was "perfect," which eventually led to his impeachment in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. "Maybe not the perfect call," the senator noted.

The Iowa senator's remarks were similar to those of her colleague, GOP Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who Democrats had hoped would vote in favor of calling additional witnesses to testify before the Senate during the trial. Alexander voted against the measure last week, and explained on Sunday that he would also vote to acquit the president.

"I think he shouldn't have done it. I think it was wrong. Inappropriate was the way I'd say -- improper, crossing the line. And then the only question left is who decides what to do about that," the Republican lawmaker told NBC's Meet the Press. "I think what he did is a long way from treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors. I don't think it's the kind of inappropriate action that the framers would expect the Senate to substitute its judgment for the people in picking a president."

Trump was impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by the House in December, due to his actions toward Ukraine. The president repeatedly pressured the Eastern European nation's leaders to announce investigations into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter's former business dealings in the country, as well as into a debunked conspiracy theory that Democrats and Ukrainians, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Additionally, multiple witnesses from the Trump administration testified that there was a quid pro quo involved with the pressure campaign. It was alleged that Trump withheld a White House meeting for Ukraine's president and nearly $400 million in military aid to the country in order to pressure the country's leaders to announce investigations against his political rivals.

Joni Ernst
Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) speaks to the media during a dinner break in the Senate impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol on January 27 in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty

Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton reportedly corroborated the claims of the quid pro quo in the manuscript of a new book, according to reporting by The New York Times. He reportedly wrote that the president explicitly told him that he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine until the country cooperated with the investigations he wanted into the Bidens and the Democrats.

Due to the reported revelations in Bolton's new book, Democrats had hoped that at least four Republican senators would join them in calling for additional witnesses in the Senate trial. However, they only garnered support from GOP lawmakers Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, meaning the measure failed on Friday, with 51 opposed and 49 in support.

Trump has insisted that his actions were "perfect" and he did "nothing wrong." However, even some of the Republican senators planning to acquit Trump, such as Ernst and Alexander, have disagreed with this assessment