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Biden calls out Iowa GOP senator's impeachment comments: 'She spilled the beans'

Joe Biden on Tuesday called out Iowa Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstWe know how Republicans will vote — but what do they believe? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending Overnight Defense: Pentagon says extremist groups 'very aggressively recruit' troops | Capitol Guard deployment estimated at 3M | No US combat deaths in Afghanistan for a year | VA secretary confirmed MORE (R) for suggesting that the former vice president would be hurt politically at next week's caucuses due to President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney: 'Pretty sure' Trump would win 2024 GOP nomination if he ran for president Pence huddles with senior members of Republican Study Committee Trump says 'no doubt' Tiger Woods will be back after accident MORE's defense team focusing on him at the Senate impeachment trial.

“She spilled the beans,” Biden said at a campaign event in Muscatine, Iowa, a day after Ernst made her remarks about the Democratic presidential candidate while speaking to reporters at the Capitol.

“She just came out and flat said it. You know, the whole impeachment trial for Trump is just a political hit job to try to smear me, because he is scared to death to run against me, and he has good reason to be concerned," Biden added.

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The former vice president went on to argue that Democrats in Iowa have the chance to "ruin" Trump and Ernst's night by caucusing for him next Monday during the first-in-the-nation 2020 vote.

Trump's lawyers repeatedly targeted Biden and his son Hunter Biden during their opening arguments on Monday.

They made the case that Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company whose board included Hunter Biden, was corrupt and that the younger Biden's spot on the company's board while his father served as vice president represented a conflict of interest.

Trump's lawyers also argued that it was appropriate for the president to bring up the Bidens on his now-infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, asserting that he was concerned with corruption.

The phone call is at the center of Trump's impeachment and allegations that Trump tied millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine to the nation announcing probes into his political opponents, including the Bidens.

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Democrats argue that Trump's dealings amount to abuse of power in pursuit of personal gain, while the White House has maintained that Trump did nothing wrong on the call.

Ernst said Monday she was "really interested" to see how Trump's legal team's presentation on the Bidens would inform caucusgoers.

"Will they be supporting Vice President BidenJoe BidenHoyer: House will vote on COVID-19 relief bill Friday Pence huddles with senior members of Republican Study Committee Powell pushes back on GOP inflation fears MORE at this point? Not sure about that," she said. 

The comments were quickly seized on by Biden's campaign and others as evidence that Republicans were only interested in handicapping Trump's opponents. 

"Senator Ernst just said the quiet part out loud: Republicans are terrified that Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee," Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Biden, said in a statement late Monday. 

"This turns my stomach," Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzLittle known Senate referee to play major role on Biden relief plan Bipartisan group of lawmakers proposes bill to lift rule putting major financial burden on USPS Warren to join Finance panel overseeing taxes, health care MORE (D-Hawaii) tweeted. 

Ernst's office has not responded to a request for further comment from The Hill on Tuesday.

Polls indicate that Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders has right goal, wrong target in fight to help low-wage workers Democrats in standoff over minimum wage Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack MORE (I-Vt.) are the most favored candidates in the 2020 Democratic primary field. On Monday, Sanders had a 3-point edge in Iowa in a RealClearPolitics average of polls