Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), in a rare break with President Donald Trump, took aim at a Trump campaign press conference on Thursday in which the president’s attorneys put forth outlandish and unproven claims of widespread fraud.

Senate Republican Policy Luncheon

UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 10: Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, conducts a news conference after the Senate … [+] Republican Policy luncheon in Hart Building on Tuesday, November 10, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Key Facts

Asked during an interview with Fox Radio host Guy Benson on Thursday about Rudy Giuliani’s claim Trump “won the election by a landslide” despite his clear loss, Ernst replied, “I would say there does have to be proof.”

“I haven’t seen proof yet… I haven’t seen it personally,” Ernst conceded, adding that while there are “a lot of allegations out there,” it’s important that Trump’s legal team “present that information to a court of law.”

Ernst is among the majority of the Senate GOP caucus that has not acknowledged Joe Biden as president-elect or even the apparent winner of the election, instead remaining largely silent about the presidential result.

Ernst also took aim at Trump attorney Sidney Powell for stating “we have no idea how many Republican or Democratic candidates… paid to have the system rigged to work for them,” calling it “an offensive comment.”

“To insinuate that Republican and Democratic candidates paid to throw off this election I think is absolutely outrageous and I do take offense to that,” Ernst said, accusing Powell of trying to “confuse the voters of the United States,” which she called “absolutely wrong.”


Ernst is the first Republican senator to weigh in on the press conference, but she is far from alone among conservatives in criticizing it. Republican strategist Karl Rove, who is heading up the GOP effort in the Georgia Senate runoffs, called the allegations made by Powell and Giuliani “strange,” adding, “I’m not going to say they don’t have proof, but they better come up with proof and go to court.”

Crucial Quote

“I’m told the president is mostly listening to three people,” CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins said Thursday. Those people, she said, are Giuliani, Powell and Jenna Ellis, the third Trump attorney at the press conference.

What To Watch For

More Republicans have gradually begun to acknowledge Biden’s victories as the president’s desperate efforts to overturn the results grow increasingly hopeless. On Thursday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert referred to Biden as “president-elect” after a meeting with him and 9 other governors, including 4 Republicans. Biden says the governors “congratulated us heartily for our win.”


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