After hearing testimony from more than a dozen witnesses, being presented with over 28,000 pages of documents, and listening to the full arguments from both sides through the fair Senate trial, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) announced she would vote “no” on both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
Senator Ernst spoke on the Senate floor regarding her decision, stating that the arguments of the House Managers’ did not demonstrate the president’s actions rise to an impeachable offense, and that removing the president would take away the ability of the American people to make their own decision at the ballot box in November.
She cautioned senators from allowing impeachment to become the norm and called on the Senate to come together to continue its work for the American people.
Senator Ernst’s full speech is below:
“Madam President, I want to first thank the House Managers, and the Counsel for the President, for their time, their hard work, and patience these past few weeks.
“Yes, folks, we have had a robust and at times rancorous trial – some days I left here feeling angry, and some days I left more hopeful. Frankly, it is likely that many Americans, and in my case Iowans, from every political stripe, will feel hurt by this process at some level. But we are all representatives of the ideals and beliefs of the people we are here to represent.
“Like all of you, I have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, and I take that oath very seriously.
“There have been a lot of arguments presented about what the Constitution says regarding the threshold for impeaching a President.
“It’s clear to me that the Constitution goes out of its way to make it a high bar for removing the President.
“This is because the Founders were rightfully concerned that impeachment might be used to upend the electoral will of the American people. Absent restraint, the impeachment process would be all too tempting for those that oppose a sitting President to simply use it as a tool to achieve political advantage.
“Each of us had one job. One job during this process: to decide, based on the evidence, whether the President committed an impeachable offense.
“Upon reviewing the record containing the testimony of 17 witnesses and over 28,000 pages, as well as hearing from both sides on their arguments presented throughout this process, I will vote against both articles of impeachment.
“The arguments of the House Managers simply did not demonstrate that the President’s actions rise to an impeachable offense.
“Given the constitutional requirements, voting any other way on these articles would remove the ability of the American people to make their own decision at the ballot box in November.
“This process was fraught from the start with political aims and partisan innuendos that simply cannot be overlooked.
“The House Managers’ arguments have argued that the American people cannot be trusted to render their own judgment on this president. I reject this premise and the complete distrust of the American people with everything in my heart.
“To do this would set a new and dangerous precedent in American history.
“As we sit here today, we believe we are experiencing a unique and historical event. However, if the case presented by the House of Representatives is allowed to be the basis for the removal of this president, I’m afraid that impeachment will become just another tool used by those who play partisan politics.
“This is not what the Founders intended and this a very dark path to go down.
“Under the Constitution, impeachment wasn’t designed to be a litmus test on every action of the President – elections were designed to be that check. Further, the issue of foreign affairs has historically been fraught with peril for Presidents—foreign affairs is an art, not a science, and trying to insert a formula into every presidential interaction with a foreign leader is a path towards ineffectiveness.
“The Senate is about to close this chapter in American history.
“I pray that we do not allow this to become the norm. I also pray earnestly that we will shift into a spirit of cohesiveness, coming together to get our work done for the American people.
“Our people, our Founders, our country, and my great state of Iowa, deserve better than this. Thank you.”