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

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstTillis appears to reinforce question about COVID-19 death toll The power of incumbency: How Trump is using the Oval Office to win reelection Poll: Trump opens up 6-point lead over Biden in Iowa 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 TapperThe media's misleading use of COVID-19 data Julia Louis-Dreyfus: 'We can't spend much time grieving' Ginsburg Pence aide dismisses concerns rushed vote on Trump nominee will hurt vulnerable senators 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 BidenPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Fox News poll: Biden ahead of Trump in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Ohio 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.