Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) on Tuesday pointedly refused to defend the Trump White House’s handling of the Rob Porter scandal.
During an interview on CNN, host John Berman asked Ernst about a new report that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders arranged for an off-the-record briefing with former staff secretary Rob Porter to deny accusations that he beat his two ex-wives — even after photos emerged showing his first wife with a black eye that was allegedly inflicted by Porter.
“I think you can’t justify it,” said Ernst, who volunteered at a women’s crisis center while in college, of the new report. “You can’t justify that.”
“And you believe the women?” Berman asked her.
“I do believe the women, yes, I do,” she replied.
Earlier in the interview, Ernst took a dig at President Donald Trump for coming out on Friday in defense of Porter without once mentioning any sympathy for the women he allegedly beat.
“I think he needs to send a stronger message,” she said of the president. “We need to allow women and men that have been abused to come out, make sure their stories are heard and believed.”
Ernst also said she was “extremely disappointed in this situation” and emphasized that “abuse is never OK.”
Watch the video below.