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The Latest: Biden capitalizes on impeachment while in Iowa

Joe Biden
Posted at 3:05 PM, Jan 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-21 16:05:43-05

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is capitalizing on President Donald Trump's impeachment trial as he campaigns in Iowa, even though he’s not mentioning it directly.

“We’ve never seen ... such an abuse of power by a president,” Biden told about 200 voters gathered at Iowa State University in Ames on Tuesday, adding that Trump "appeals to the fears of the American people."

House Democrats impeached the Republican president last month on two charges: abuse of power by withholding U.S. military aid to Ukraine as he pressed the country to investigate Biden, and obstruction of Congress by refusing to cooperate with their investigation.

In his opening pitch, Biden also avoided mention of any Democratic presidential rivals. Four of them are senators who are stuck in Washington during Trump's Senate trial. Biden argued he’s the best Democrat to take on Trump and get Democratic policies enacted into law.

Biden added that the next president will “inherit a divided nation.” He defended his previous calls to work with all parties on Capitol Hill to find common ground. “We have to unify the nation,” he said. “If we don’t, we’re behind the eight ball in a big way.”


3:50 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is openly questioning the medical deferment that President Donald Trump cites as a reason for not serving in the military during the Vietnam War.

Buttigieg, an Afghan War veteran, lately has jabbed at Trump’s lack of military service, both as a way of challenging the president’s and as a way to draw a distinction with his top-tier rivals, none of whom have served in the military.

But while the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor has indirectly suggested that Trump’s medical deferment was to avoid serving, he said he would relish the opportunity to question him directly if he becomes the Democratic presidential nominee.

One of Trump’s deferments came as a result of a physician’s letter stating that he suffered from bone spurs in his feet. Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 described the condition as temporary.

“Maybe it would be a good idea to have a war veteran standing next to him on stage raising the question of whether bone spurs are really what prevented him from putting on his country’s uniform when it was his turn to serve,” Buttigieg told about 100 people at Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant on Tuesday.


3:15 p.m.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone is noting that some of the senators running for president and listening to the impeachment trial in Washington would rather be campaigning in Iowa.

In arguing that the political stakes were too high for a trial he said was politically motivated, Cipollone noted, “In nine months, there’s going to be an election.” He later added, “Some of you are upset because you should be in Iowa right now.”

That state’s caucuses kick off primary voting in less than two weeks.

The comment elicited a small smile from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had been listening intently, his hands folded and pressed to his lips.

Sanders’ subtle reaction was more than what was offered by one of his rivals, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who made no visible movement as she sat forward in her seat, listening.

Both are running for president along with Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Michael Bennet of Colorado. All four have left the campaign trail to return to Washington for the impeachment trial.


11:30 a.m.

Bernie Sanders has canceled an upcoming campaign event he was planning in Iowa, citing the schedule of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.

The Vermont senator had planned a Wednesday night rally at the University of Northern Iowa, betting that the trial schedule might give him time to travel from Washington to the state whose caucuses lead off Democratic primary voting on Feb. 3.

But Tuesday is expected to a long day in the Senate as members set the rules for impeachment. And proceedings are likely to stretch for hours each day from Monday through Saturday going forward.

Sanders has already suggested he’d rather be campaigning than tied to DC for the trial.

But fellow senators and presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado are facing similar logistical hurdles. And most had refrained from scheduling campaign events during the week as a result.