USA TODAY US Edition
Sen. Grassley says Trump can’t lead Republican Party
‘I didn’t know how bad’ riots were, he says
NEWTON, Iowa – Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Monday that even if Donald Trump is not impeached, the outgoing president has tarnished his legacy and lost authority.
“Right now, there’s very little opportunity for him to lead the Republican Party,” Grassley said after a town hall.
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, which left five people dead. High-profile Trump appointees quit their jobs early, including acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf on Monday. Democrats in the House of Representatives introduced an impeachment article against the president.
Asked whether he supports impeaching the president a second time, Grassley said Congress should focus 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.”
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said Monday she is skeptical of the effort to impeach Trump.
Ernst said 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.”
Grassley and Ernst were vocal supporters of the president throughout his term and reelection campaign.
Last week, both senators voted against objections to Electoral College votes from battleground states that went for Joe Biden. Ernst said Congress’ approval of such votes is clearly required by the Constitution.
She indicated she wouldn’t favor expelling or censuring Republican senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, who led efforts to object to the votes.
But, she said, “I think history will not look kindly upon those that abdicated their constitutional authorities.”
Ernst said it was “horrifying” to be in the Senate chambers last week as hundreds of rioters rampaged through the building.
The Iowa Republican said she led two young Senate pages to safety as Capitol Police tried to hold off the insurrectionists last 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.”
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 knew anything had 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 and people who marred Black Lives Matter protests with violence last summer. Many people who came to Washington 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.