Amid impeachment inquiry, Iowa Republicans show support for President Donald Trump

Source: By Barbara Rodriguez, Des Moines Register • Posted: Monday, October 21, 2019

Trump wraps up wild week marked by multiple crises

President Donald Trump wrapped up what could be considered one of the most intense weeks of his presidency, marked by multiple crises both at home and abroad. AP Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace gives us a rundown of what it all means. (Oct. 18)

Standing on haystack and plywood, the U.S. senator from Iowa declared from the makeshift stage: “He really cares about farmers.”

It had been a busy week for the president, as he faced escalating questions about foreign policy in Ukraine, the withdrawal of troops from Syria and his decision to hold a summit of world leaders at his private business in Florida.

But inside the barn, which was covered in decorative lights and prominently featured an Iowa flag on one wall, Republicans previewed their messaging on Trump ahead of the 2020 election.

Ernst described to about 100 people how she had worked with Iowa leaders to urge the president to restore the market for billions of gallons of renewable fuel waived through small refinery exemptions. The full impact of Trump’s latest deal remains unclear to some farmers in Iowa.

Ernst, who is seeking reelection next year, said she spoke to Trump by phone on Friday, hours before the nighttime event at a farming property in Fairfax, located near Cedar Rapids.

“I said, ‘I want to thank you again, Mr. President, for working on this ethanol issue for us,'” she recalled.

As Trump faces an impeachment inquiry, Republicans in Iowa are praising the president for his work on ethanol, the economy and trade negotiations between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

But even some of those topics are complicated. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed recently a plan that appeared to backtrack on the agreement with Iowa agriculture leaders. Some have now warned that Trump will lose rural voters if he doesn’t secure the deal.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who started a four-year term in January, was part of the three-person discussion inside the barn that included Ernst and Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann. Reynolds noted that Trump’s administration has visited Iowa frequently, including Vice President Mike Pence earlier this month.

“This administration is the most accessible administration that we have ever seen,” Reynolds told the audience.

In describing her work with the president, Reynolds added that she wished more people could interact with him.

“He does listen, and he is very informed about the issues,” she said.

Impeachment did not come up in the Friday night event. But in an interview later with the Des Moines Register, Kaufmann recalled the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. The college professor said he still remembers what he told his students at the time.

“I said, ‘Folks. Don’t get excited about this. Bill Clinton is not gonna be convicted,'” he said. “And I would say the same thing: ‘Folks. Don’t get excited about this. Donald Trump is not gonna be convicted.'”

Kaufmann based his prediction in part on what he said is Trump’s transparency in sharing information about a July phone call that is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

The White House released a summary of the call, in which Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, now a leading contender for the Democratic nomination for president, and his adult son, Hunter. Trump’s acting chief of staff this week admitted on live television that the administration withheld aid to Ukraine as part of leverage to investigate potential corruption regarding U.S. domestic politics. The official, Mick Mulvaney, later revised his remarks.

Kaufmann said Republicans in Congress should have the power to call witnesses during the impeachment inquiry. He also believes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, should call for a formal vote on an impeachment inquiry.

“This is pure, unadulterated politics,” Kaufmann said. “… I have no problem asking questions. I have no problem asking Donald Trump questions, or having the media ask Donald Trump questions. Just so both sides are being heard.”

State Sen. Dan Zumbach, a Republican farmer from Ryan who is facing reelection in 2020, said he’s focusing on how the president’s actions impact agriculture. He said his constituents are asking about farming and trade, not the impeachment inquiry.

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“What I do know is he has worked his tail off to develop new markets with China and get a fair deal. That’s important to me,” Zumbach said of Trump.