Ernst says Trump ‘can still be held accountable’ without impeachment trial conviction

State News

FILE – In this May 19, 2020, file photo, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks with reporters after a Senate Republican weekly luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Iowa U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst says she believes it’s unconstitutional to try a president for articles of impeachment after he leaves office.

Ernst was a loyal supporter of President Donald Trump while he was in office. She is among several Republican senators to question the impeachment trial proceedings, casting doubt on whether Democrats can get the needed Republican votes to convict Trump.

Ernst told reporters Tuesday that Trump exhibited poor leadership and has some responsibility for a Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

She says he should have more quickly told the crowd to remain peaceful.

However, Ernst said she’s not sure his actions meet the definition of inciting an insurrection as alleged by the impeachment article prepared by the House.

After Trump’s first impeachment, Ernst was one of the lawmakers who acknowledged Trump’s actions but suggested he learned his lesson and voted against removing him from office.

In a call with Iowa reporters Ernst said she still will listen to presentations in upcoming days on the issue of whether a post-presidential impeachment conviction is constitutional.

“At this point I believe this is unconstitutional. I will keep my ears open and listen and ask appropriate questions as we move into the trial,” she said.

Ernst said the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol should be held accountable. She seemed less concerned with holding Trump accountable for his role in encouraging violence at the Capitol.

“If the president is truly guilty of something else we have remedies through the courts for that. So if there truly is a case there he can still be held accountable,” she said.

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