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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 ErnstOvernight Defense: Pentagon details military construction projects getting .2B restored from wall funds | Biden chooses former commander to lead Navy | Bill seeks to boost visa program for Afghans who helped US Meghan McCain: Harris 'sounded like a moron' discussing immigration Senate bill would add visas, remove hurdles to program for Afghans who helped US MORE (R) for suggesting that the former vice president would be hurt politically at next week's caucuses due to President TrumpDonald TrumpWhat blue wave? A close look at Texas today tells of a different story Democrats go down to the wire with Manchin Trump's former bodyguard investigated in NY prosectors' probe: report 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 BidenMilitary must better understand sexual assaults to combat them The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population On The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling 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 SchatzThe Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl Schumer to force vote Tuesday on sweeping election bill 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 SandersThe Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population Overnight Health Care: Medicaid enrollment reaches new high | White House gives allocation plan for 55M doses | Schumer backs dental, vision, hearing in Medicare Schumer backing plan to add dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare 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