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Ernst: Trump may have acted in 'wrong manner' with Ukraine

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstConservative Club for Growth PAC comes out against Stefanik to replace Cheney A bipartisan effort to prevent the scourge of sexual assault in the armed forces Ernst defends Cheney, calls for GOP unity MORE (R-Iowa) said Sunday that President Trump may have acted in "the wrong manner" with his communication with Ukraine, but she does not think it rises to the level of impeachment and will be voting to acquit him on Wednesday. 

"I think ferreting out corruption is absolutely the right thing to do," Ernst said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

She added that if Trump was "tying it to other things," referring to the allegations that the president connected U.S. military aid to investigations into this political rival, that's something she "wouldn't have done." 

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"The president has a lot of latitude to do what he wants to do," she said. 

"I think, generally speaking, going after corruption would be the right thing to do. He did it maybe in the wrong manner," Ernst added. 

Ernst said she will be voting to acquit Trump in the Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday, adding that "whether you like what the president has done or not," she does not think it rises to the point of removing a president from office. 

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CNN's Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperCNN's Jake Tapper questions giving some GOP leaders airtime Cheney slams Trump on 'big lie' over election Biden adviser on schools reopening in the fall: 'We can't look in a crystal ball' MORE also asked her if she is confident Trump won't act this way again if acquitted.

"I think that he knows now if he is trying to do certain things, whether ferreting out corruption there, in Afghanistan, whatever it is he needs to go through the proper channels," Ernst responded. 

Ernst added that she was interested to see whether Trump's impeachment defense team's focus on former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to meet with 6 GOP senators next week Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit On The Money: Five takeaways on a surprisingly poor jobs report | GOP targets jobless aid after lackluster April gain MORE and his son would influence the Iowa caucuses on Monday.

"That does seem to undermine the argument that it is not about electoral politics," Tapper responded. "Given that you are saying you want to see how the mention of Joe and Hunter Biden — and we should point out there's no evidence that anybody did anything illegal regarding the Bidens and Ukraine, and Joe Biden was carrying out U.S. policy — but it does seem to suggest that you think that it could have an effect?"

"I think this does," Ernst said. "Whether that was the intention or not, now everything is tied together. The information about the Bidens is out there. And so now it is up to the American people to decide."

Ernst first suggested last week that Trump's legal team's focus on the Bidens would hurt the former vice president in the first-in-the-nation 2020 vote. Biden seized on the comments, saying that the Iowa Republican showed that the "whole impeachment trial for Trump is just a political hit job to try to smear me."

--Justine Wise contributed to this report, which was updated at 10:17 a.m.