NEWTON, Ia. — Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Monday that even if Donald Trump is not impeached, the outgoing president has tarnished his
NEWTON, Ia. — Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Monday that even if Donald Trump is not impeached, the outgoing president has tarnished his legacy and has little authority to lead the Republican Party in the future.
“Right now, there’s very little opportunity for him to lead the Republican Party,” Grassley told reporters following a town hall in Newton, Iowa Monday.
In the wake of last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, the president has been roundly criticized for not tamping down the violence and series of high profile Trump appointees quit their jobs early, including, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf on Monday. Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a new impeachment article against the president following a violent attack at the Capitol last week that left five people dead.
Asked whether he supports impeaching the president for a second time, Grassley said he thinks Congress should focus its attention on the incoming president.
“I think that President Biden’s going to want the Senate to spend their time, at least near term, getting his Cabinet approved … but longer term, get whatever is on his agenda,” he said. “And I’m looking forward to what that agenda is. You heard me say today that I hope he’s got something on prescription drugs that he wants to accomplish, because I want to help him.”
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst. R-Iowa, also said Monday she is skeptical of an effort to impeach President Donald Trump for his role in last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Ernst, who toured an Indianola business Monday, told reporters she also thinks it’s time for the nation to begin to heal.
“Let’s move on. Let’s get President Biden into place,” she said. “Let’s get the new administration going and let’s start healing our nation.”
Both Grassley and Ernst had been vocal supporters of the president throughout his first term and re-election campaign.
Last week, both senators voted against last week’s objections to the certification of Electoral College votes from battleground states that went for Biden. Ernst said Congress’ approval of such votes is clearly required by the Constitution.
More:Iowa members of Congress, including Republicans, vote to count Joe Biden’s Electoral College win after dramatic day in Washington, D.C.
She indicated she wouldn’t favor expelling or censuring other Republican senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, who led efforts to object to certifying those states’ votes.
But, she added, “I think history will not look kindly upon those that abdicated their constitutional authorities.”
‘This was anarchy’ Ernst said of the U.S. Capitol attack
Ernst said it was “horrifying” to be in the Senate chambers last week as hundreds of rioters rampaged through the building.
The Iowa Republican told reporters she led two young Senate pages to safety as Capitol Police tried to hold off the insurrectionists on Wednesday.
“To everybody that thinks, ‘Oh well that was OK, they just were a little exuberant,’ — No, this was anarchy,” Ernst said.
The rioters should be prosecuted, she said. “They were terrorizing old men and young girls. I don’t know how anybody can be proud about the actions that they took.”
More:What we know about Doug Jensen, the Des Moines man photographed at the Capitol riot and arrested by the FBI
Grassley, who is third in line to the presidency as Senate president pro tempore, said he was ushered out of the Senate chamber last week by police officers before he even knew anything had even gone wrong.
“The way we went out the back door and down the steps and through the tunnels to get to the car, I didn’t see any of these rioters,” he said. “I didn’t know how bad it was until we got to the secure place.”
Watching the riots unfold on television, Grassley said he kept thinking, “How can this be happening?”
Ernst drew parallels between the people who committed violence at the Capitol Wednesday and people who marred Black Lives Matter protests with violence last summer. Many people who came to Washington, D.C., last week to protest the election results took no part in the violence, she said.
“There were peaceful parts. And then there were parts that are abhorrent,” she said.
Tony Leys covers health care for the Register. Reach him at [email protected] or 515-284-8449.