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

Joe BidenJoe BidenMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Biden says staff has spoken with Fauci: 'He's been very, very helpful' MORE on Tuesday called out Iowa Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstThe Memo: Trump plows ahead with efforts to overturn election More conservatives break with Trump over election claims Peggy Noonan: 'Bogus dispute' by Trump 'doing real damage' MORE (R) for suggesting that the former vice president would be hurt politically at next week's caucuses due to President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race 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.

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.

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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 Biden 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 SchatzTech CEOs clash with lawmakers in contentious hearing Bitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Senate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination 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 SandersBiden: 'Difficult decision' to staff administration with House, Senate members Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far 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