As lawyers for President Donald Trump pressed arguments Monday about questions related to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter's involvement with an energy company in Ukraine, some GOP lawmakers openly said the information should play a role in the current race for the White House, where Biden could well run against the President this November.
"I'm really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa Caucus voters," said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), as GOP Senators openly mused about how the proceedings might impact other Democrats running for President.
"Will they be supporting Vice President Biden at this point?" Ernst said to reporters at the Capitol. "Iowa Caucuses are this next Monday."
Naming the four Democratic Senators running for President, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) claimed all four were listening intently to the Biden charges, and maybe thinking about what it would mean politically.
“I've never seen them all so attentive,” Barrasso told reporters.
"I think at a minimum, the most important witness for the Senate to hear from is Hunter Biden," said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), as Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) said it was the 'crux' of the impeachment trial.
ERNST: "IA caucuses are this next Monday evening. And I'm really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Demcaucus goers. Will they be supporting VP Biden at this point?"— Alan He (@alanhe) January 28, 2020
H/T @JaxAlemany pic.twitter.com/tYYkSPuIDY
Democrats said the evidence was painfully clear that while Republicans said the President was not trying to go after a political opponent by asking Ukraine to investigate the Bidens - the GOP was actually now using that same information to do everything possible to slow Biden as the 2020 race gets underway in earnest next week.
"Watching the expected Burisma-Biden barrage from Team Trump today, you got the feeling someone said 'If we have to go through this crappy impeachment thing, let’s at least get our money’s worth,'" said David Axelrod, the chief strategist for President Barack Obama's two campaigns for the White House.
"Incredible," tweeted Michael McFaul, President Obama's former Ambassador to Russia. "Admitting openly that Trump and team are using this impeachment trial to take down Biden in Iowa."
Spokesman for Joe Biden campaign swings back at the Pam Bondi impeachment trial speech. pic.twitter.com/oO6KZ4SI0w— Darren Samuelsohn (@dsamuelsohn) January 27, 2020
"Mucking up Joe distracts from Trump's illicit recruitment of a foreign government to help win re-election," said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA). "Don't get it twisted."
"We have strong evidence that President Trump withheld military aid to force Ukraine to smear Vice President Biden," said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA).
The comments from Ernst, Cruz, and other GOP Senators came after the first extended presentation by the President's legal team concerning Hunter Biden's work for the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which Republicans have said presented corruption issues which drew a natural interest from President Trump.
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi made the arguments on Biden for the Trump defense team, as she labeled Hunter Biden's board membership with Burisma, “nepotistic at best, nefarious at worst” on the Senate floor.
"The President had an obligation to investigate corruption," Cruz told reporters on Monday evening, as he criticized Democrats for ignoring the issue.
"It would have been wrong for President Trump to have NOT been worried about the Bidens' business dealings in Ukraine," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweeted.
While Graham has consistently complained to reporters about a lack of interest in the Hunter Biden story, Bondi's presentation on the Senate floor repeatedly noted news stories about Biden, and an interest in the matter.
“The media didn't stop asking questions,” Bondi said, quoting stories from ABC, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, and more.