Iowa Senator Joni Ernst Says Husband Assaulted Her

Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) claimed in divorce filings that she turned down an opportunity to be President Trump’s running mate in order to placate her husband, whom she believed “hated any successes I have,” The Guardian reports. “In the summer of 2016, I was interviewed by Candidate Trump to be vice president of the United States. I turned Candidate Trump down, knowing it wasn’t the right thing for me or my family,” Ernst wrote in an affidavit. The Guardian notes that Ernst met with Trump at his golf course in Bedminister, New Jersey, in July 2016, and that after the meeting, she told Politico, “I made that very clear to him that I’m focused on Iowa. I feel that I have a lot more to do in the United States Senate. And Iowa is where my heart is.” But in the divorce filings, Ernst offers a different explanation: that her husband Gail “hated any successes I had and would belittle me and get angry any time I achieved a goal.” If the combat veteran had accepted the position, The Guardian notes, it would have been the first time in history that there were women on both presidential tickets—and the first time in history that a woman was vice president.

The Des Moines Register reported Tuesday that the filings also include allegations of cheating and domestic abuse against Gail. In the filings, Ernst reportedly claims that her husband “became physical” after she confronted him about an alleged affair with their daughter’s babysitter, injuring her throat and head so severely that a victim’s advocate wanted to take her to the hospital. Gail denied having an affair, and did not address the abuse allegation.