Staff Editorial

On Ukraine affair, Iowans expect more from Grassley and Ernst

U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a bilateral meeting with with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City, New York, U.S., September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a bilateral meeting with with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City, New York, U.S., September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

If you study their records, you would expect Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst to be among the first members of Congress to voice their outrage at the ongoing scandal surrounding President Donald Trump’s communications with the Ukrainian president.

Ernst is a member of the Senate Ukraine Caucus. She has repeatedly emphasized the need to support Ukraine and defend the country against aggressive actions from neighboring Russia.

Grassley is a founding member of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus. He has long billed himself as a champion of legislation to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.



It is premature for senators to dismiss the Ukraine affair before all the facts have been laid out.


Trump’s recently disclosed phone conversation with the Ukrainian president — where Trump used aid to Ukraine as a political tool, and later lashed out against a whistleblower who reported the discussion to federal watchdogs — should have been cause for grave concern among Iowa’s Senate delegation.

Instead, our senators have spent more time criticizing Democratic colleagues than holding the president accountable for potentially illegal activity.

Ernst — who visited Ukraine this year and called to called to “promote good governance and provide greater military partnership” — released a statement after the administration released a description of Trump’s call with Volodymyr Zelensky to say, “I don’t see anything there.”

At the same time Trump was openly calling for the whistleblower’s identity to be revealed, Grassley initially seemed to question the integrity of the source: “If they are not really a whistleblower, they don’t get the protection,” Grassley said, as reported by the Hill.

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On Tuesday, Grassley released a much better statement, clarifying that the person in question appears to have followed the law and “ought to be heard out and protected.”

Kudos to Grassley for that. Unfortunately, he couldn’t help himself from calling out Democrats who are appropriately disturbed about Trump’s behavior, writing “inquiries that put impeachment first and facts last don’t weigh very credibly.”

In saying that, Grassley too mixes the politically charged impeachment process with what should be a non-partisan examination of credible allegations that the Trump abused his power for political gain. It is premature for senators to dismiss the Ukraine affair before all the facts have been laid out.

An impeachment inquiry is the House’s right under the U.S. Constitution. If the House impeaches Trump and sends articles to the Senate, Iowans will expect our senators to weigh the facts in an impartial, non-partisan manner. Too bad for Iowans, it appears Ernst and Grassley have already made up their minds.

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