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Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team, and many of his staunchest allies, have repeatedly argued that he was not really trying to pressure to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden for the purpose of damaging his presidential election chances — it’s just that Trump is really concerned about corruption.

But on Monday evening, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) seemed to suggest that in fact the entire point was indeed to turn off Democratic voters.

“Iowa caucuses, folks, Iowa caucuses are this next Monday evening,” Ernst said to reporters. “And I’m really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Democratic caucus goers. Will they be supporting Vice President Biden at this point?”

Much of Trump’s defense team spent Monday’s Senate impeachment trial focusing on the former vice president and his son, Hunter Biden, trying to argue that Trump was justified in seeking investigations into the Biden family because of their alleged corrupt and nefarious acts. Despite many insinuations by Trump and his allies, there is no evidence to support Trump’s claims about the Bidens.

And despite the Trump team’s defense, plenty of evidence — including a Sunday bombshell from former national security adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming book — shows that Trump was indeed focused on the Biden family in particular.

Neither Trump nor anyone in his administration has offered any evidence to show that Trump has a general interest in rooting out corruption. Asked in October whether he had asked any foreign leaders to investigate “corruption” of anyone who was not a political opponent, Trump couldn’t name a single example.

“You know, we would have to look,” he said.

It certainly looks as if Trump wanted to damage Biden, who numerous polls show has a good chance of beating Trump in November if he becomes the Democratic nominee for president.

Now Ernst is making clear that the message she thinks voters should take from Trump’s impeachment trial isn’t about Trump, but about the baseless accusations against Biden.

It’s reminiscent of an infamous moment when Republican Kevin McCarthy, now House minority leader, admitted that the purpose of the endless Benghazi investigations in 2015 was to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential chances.

“Everybody though Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” McCarthy asked during an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.”

Now it seems Ernst has made a similar blunder — suggesting that the real motivation of Trump’s Ukraine dealings was not to combat corruption but to damage Biden with voters.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Photo by stingrayschuller licensed under CC BY 2.0

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

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