Senator Joni Ernst joined me this morning:
HH: So pleased to welcome back from the United States Senate representing Iowa, the great state of Iowa, Senator Joni Ernst. Hello, Senator Ernst.
JE: Oh, good morning, Hugh. How are you doing?
HH: I’m great. I want to give you a GPS on where we are this morning.
HH: I spent the first hour talking only to women first-time callers. I talked to Cathy in Scranton, Ann in Dallas, Sarah in Tampa, Ann in Detroit who has a teenage son, Norma in Michigan, Alexandria in Newport Beach, California, Elaine in Louisville, Jeannie in Oregon, Shelly in Columbus, Ann in San Diego, all first-time callers. All of them want Kavanaugh confirmed. Nine out of ten of them support what the president said last night. One wished he hadn’t said it. And they all don’t believe Dr. Ford’s testimony, though they are all very sympathetic, and indeed, one has a daughter who’s a survivor of sexual assault. That’s just a slice of what I’ve been hearing. What have you been hearing?
JE: Well, I am hearing, of course, a mixture of the calls I get at the office. A lot of them are saying get Kavanaugh confirmed. And then there are others that are, you know, adamantly opposed. We see those folks on the TV all the time. But what I do hear when I’m out and about is people just can’t understand why we haven’t move on with getting him confirmed. They understand that he has the right credentials to sit on the nation’s highest court, and they fully expect that we should get this done soon.
HH: Now Senator Ernst, I do not believe the president was mocking the idea of someone being assaulted last night. He was poking holes in testimony. And I want to review a few things with you about the testimony. First of all, there was a story in Politico that she had a fear of flying, which is why that had to be delayed. She never actually said that herself, but that was represented to the Committee. She did say she was not aware that the Committee would come to here. So that could be on her lawyers. Her former boyfriend has filed a letter saying she’s familiar with polygraphs. They had never discussed sexual assault. There’s a new Real Clear Investigations report that the second front door, contractor evidence, shows it was not about claustrophobia, but a second entrance for an office. There wasn’t a single verifiable assertion in her testimony, and not one that could be disproven, either. And then there’s the Rachel Mitchell report. I simply do not believe that that testimony could knock Brett Kavanaugh off of consideration.
JE: No, I don’t believe so, either, and Dr. Ford, I do honestly believe that she has experienced trauma at some point in her life.
HH: So do I. So do I.
JE: I think most folks would agree with that. However, even the witnesses that she called forward actually can’t corroborate or simply tear down the testimony that she gave about some party that she had attended. So unfortunately for her, I don’t find that to be a credible message. Again, I do want to reiterate that I do think she experienced trauma, but I don’t know, and it wasn’t proven that it was Judge Kavanaugh.
HH: Meanwhile, we have this secondary assault on Judge Kavanaugh, who I do not know, by the way. He’s ten years younger than I am, so we did not move in the same circles. But he strikes me as a very good and decent man, and his two daughters haunt me, the 10 and the 14 year old.
HH: They will be dealing with this for the rest of their life.
HH: And that people have not stood up to underscore that their father is not a gang rapist, that none of this has been proven, that Sheldon Whitehouse’s allegation was libelous, slanderous and immediately repudiated, referred by the Committee for prosecution. Are you and your colleagues doing enough to stand up and stand by Judge Kavanaugh, in your view?
JE: Well, I think we are standing up for Judge Kavanaugh. Of course, you won’t hear any of those stories covered by mainstream media, but we certainly respect him, we respect his family. They have been put through the worst possible situation ever with their father being demeaned and discredited, and it’s very unfortunate. And we’ve had those discussions on why would anybody want to step up, be nominated for such an important position? Why would anybody want to run for office if it simply takes an accusation, and unproven accusation which can put a family literally through hell?
HH: Now Jerry Nadler, who would be the chairman of House Judiciary if the Democrats take the House, that’s a very scary thought, he has said he is going to open impeachment hearings based upon the Judge’s perjury. Nothing he said, I’ve been doing this for 35 years, remotely approaches perjury as a lawyer. Nothing.
JE: No, no.
HH: There’s not a single unverifiable assertion that he made. He characterized his drinking. He did not deny his drinking. Why would anyone take that seriously?
JE: Well, just look around, Hugh. It’s all about obstruction. It’s about resistance. It is about what can we stop and put in the president’s way. What can we put in Congress’ way to stop them from doing a better job for the United States of America? I mean, look at our economy and how strong we are doing right now, and no thanks to our counterparts across the aisle. They have tried to slow us down, stop us at every opportunity whether it’s getting rid of unnecessary regulation, whether it is stopping the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Whatever it is, they try and delay, delay, resist, and that’s exactly what they’re doing in the House. If they take the House, we can expect that for the next two years.
HH: Now I have been calling this frequently online the new McCarthyism, because McCarthyism is the taking of a very serious charge that’s been proven in other contexts, in that case originally, treasonous conduct against the Rosenberg’s, perjury by Hiss, and assigning it to the Hollywood screenwriters. That’s McCarthyism. This McCarthyism is taking people like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby and their horrible crimes and attributing them to Brett Kavanaugh. And I think people need to stand up and say this is hysterical, and it’s deeply unfair, Senator.
JE: It is. It is absolutely unfair. And it is absolutely ridiculous. If you look around the Senate, you can point fingers here, too, at members that have admittedly had bad behavior in their past, which probably surpasses any accusation that has been leveled at Brett Kavanaugh. So I think people should tread very lightly on the things that they are throwing at this respectable man and his family. They don’t want it to come around fivefold against them in the future. So we just need to do a better job here in the United States at teaching our children what is appropriate behavior, what is not appropriate behavior, and then of course just doing better as a society. But for other members to kind of laugh about what they did in their college days and then point the finger at Brett Kavanaugh and say you are not qualified to serve on our nation’s highest court because you drank beer in high school or college, you know, shame on you, they had better start thinking twice about what they’re doing.
HH: Now Jeff Flake, who I have campaigned with and for and I believe to be a fair and decent man, he actually had good faith in the Democrats. He’s been proven wrong, of course. They did not use this to wait for the FBI report. They immediately moved the goal posts. Have you got any sense when the FBI is going to finish and therefore a motion for cloture filed? Do you have a timetable?
JE: I do think that we will see that this week. I think the FBI is probably winding down as we are speaking with their witnesses. And I know that our Leader is very intent on getting this voted on this week. So as soon as we can receive the report, I do think it is important to review the information in the report for the supplemental investigation. We need to know that for our constituents just to be able to verify, you know, everything is okay. If everything does check out, then we move forward and have this thing wrapped up. But I would anticipate, as the Leader has stated, that he wants to see it done this week.
HH: Have you heard any, I have heard that possibly the FBI report will be done today and cloture filed tonight. Have you heard that?
JE: I have heard some semblance of that, but again, I would hesitate to say that on a national program. I just think that we have to make sure that we are going through the report, that we’ve had time to absorb it, make sure that we’re able to push back to our constituents that everything is good to go, and then we move forward.
HH: Do you expect at this point, at this point, obviously with the report to review, that you will be voting for Judge Kavanaugh?
JE: I will unless there is something that surfaces in the investigative report, you know, the supplemental report, that would corroborate Dr. Ford’s testimony. Unless that happens, I plan to support Judge Kavanaugh.
HH: And last thing, I want to play for you Lindsey Graham on Sean Hannity last night, cut number 15:
SH: What about these red state Democrats?
LG: I think they’re toast.
SH: All of them?
LG: All of them.
HH: All right, do you agree with that, Senator Ernst?
JE: I do.
HH: I’ve seen the…go ahead.
JE: I do. I absolutely agree with Senator Graham, and Lindsey has been a hero through this process. He clearly sees what is going on. He has been able to demonstrate that in clear, concise language for everyone, which we all appreciate. But I do believe that those Democrats that are in red state, those that are up this year, they are going to have a very, very difficult time. If they do not support Judge Kavanaugh, you know, if they are willing to stand up and say it’s okay to be torn down and accused of horrendous actions and get away with that, I think they’re gone.
HH: Senator Joni Ernst, always a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you for joining me, one of the great women of the Senate. I appreciate it, Senator Joni Ernst.
End of interview.