Government

Time to 'move on' from Mueller probe, Sen. Joni Ernst says

Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 15, 2019. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 15, 2019. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
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URBANDALE — U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst sharpened her stance on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump administration, telling a conservative group Wednesday it’s time for Democrats to “move on.”

Ernst, a first-term Republican and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told members of the Westside Conservative Club that the report has been made public and there is no evidence of collusion or need for further investigation.

“The Mueller report came back with absolutely zero, zero evidence of collusion with Russia from the Trump campaign. Zero evidence of that, so this really needs to stop,” she said. “The report is there. We can read the report. It proves absolutely nothing, but the Democrats want to keep going and keep going. No more investigations. No ‘Let’s call Mueller in, let’s have him in front.’ I don’t think it’s necessary, folks. We have the report. It’s exactly what they wanted, the problem is it doesn’t say what they wanted it to say. So I think it’s time that we move on from this.”

A heavily redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was made public last week, and a less-redacted version was delivered to Congress.

Ernst said the Democrats “were hounding” for the special prosecutor’s investigation and he did his job. Now, the Red Oak Republican said, “They keep making demands. We keep meeting those demands, but we’re at a point now, no more demands, folks.”

During a question-and-answer discussion, Ernst was asked about the genesis of the Mueller investigation and whether there was a “two-tiered justice system” at play that treats President Donald Trump differently than former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, who was Trump’s 2016 opponent.

“It does seem to be an abuse of power, and it would be interesting to know how that came about and how this report was initially generated at the very root basics — why did this start in the first place — and I think we can go back into the Obama administration and figure that out,” Ernst said. “But it does seem to be a two-tiered system? Absolutely.”

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Ernst declined to take reporters’ questions after the event, saying she was on a tight schedule and had to leave immediately for a town meeting in Newton.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price later issued a response to Ernst’s suggestion that the Obama administration spied on Trump for political gain, saying the senator “knows this is wrong, yet she is pedaling this absurd rumor to show her loyalty to Donald Trump.”

“It is becoming more and more clear that Joni Ernst didn’t go to Washington to make them squeal. She is awash in the corruption of her party, and now it is time for Iowans to send her to retirement,” Price said.

Ernst, 48, who has raised $2.8 million for her 2020 re-election campaign, said she expects a “contentious” election with both her crucial Senate seat and Trump on the ballot in Iowa. Ernst defeated Democrat Bruce Braley by 8.5 percent in 2014 to become Iowa’s first female U.S. senator and the first female military veteran in the chamber’s history. She plans to use her annual “Roast and Ride” fundraiser on June 15 to formally launch her reelection bid.

The general election is Nov. 3, 2020.

• Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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