GARNER -- U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley faced an angry crowd shouting taunts and waving protest signs during a town hall meeting Tuesday in the basement of the Hancock County Courthouse.
An overflow crowd of about 200 filled the meeting room and spilled out onto a stairway.
Grassley fielded questions on health care, education, immigration, term limits and President Trump's cabinet picks and possible ties to Russia.
Often his answers were hard for some to hear because of others shouting questions or insults at the same time.
As one person held up a sign saying "Shame On You, Chuck Grassley — Sold to the Highest Bidder," the senator defended his vote in favor of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education.
A woman read off a litany of reasons she felt DeVos was unqualified.
"I voted for a lot of Obama's nominees for the cabinet," said Grassley. "I think great deference should be given to a new president to help him put his team together to carry out his programs."
When the woman said "It's your role to determine who is competent," some in the crowd chanted, "Do your job; do your job."
When someone mentioned DeVos donated $21,000 to Grassley's re-election campaign, he replied, "When you raise $10-$11 million in a campaign, you can't possibly know where every $21,000 came from."
Another person asked if he thought President Trump should release his tax returns. Grassley said, "You can't force it."
When asked if he would sign a letter asking Trump to release his tax returns, the senator replied, "It would be kind of silly for me to say I'd sign a letter I haven't read."
Jamet Colton, a native of Chile who now lives in Ames, said immigrants are an important part of American society. "We're already making this country great again," she said. Then she asked, "How will you stand up for immigrants?"
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Grassley agreed immigrants are important and said, "Aren't we an inviting country?" which drew a loud chorus of "No."
Colton said afterward she felt that Grassley was baiting her and had deflected answering her question.
David Bernau of West Bend asked Grassley his views on term limits. Grassley said it came up for a vote once years ago and he voted in favor, and that he would do it again.
Grassley said he favors a bipartisan investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee on whether Russia interfered with the presidential election last year.
Regarding Trump involvement with Russia, he said Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions, a longtime Trump friend and political ally, has said he will recuse himself from any prosecution if that becomes necessary.
He said he favors repeal and reform of the Affordable Care Act, often called "Obamacare," and said there is consensus among Republicans to keep some parts of it, such coverage of pre-existing illnesses and coverage of young people on their parents' policies up to the age of 26.
Grassley, meeting with reporters after the session, said it was often difficult to hear because of so many people speaking at once. Also, he said, so many people made statements rather than asking questions, it limited the number of questions asked.
"But it's their right to speak up and it's a very important part of representative government. Two-way communication is essential," he said.
Grassley added, "People who lost the last election are very well organized. If Hillary Clinton had been elected, Republicans would be doing the same thing."
But he admitted that at one point, "questions were coming at you like a machine gun."
Earlier Tuesday, Grassley encountered angry constituents in Iowa Falls. At that session, Clear Lake area farmer Chris Petersen offered him a package of Tums, saying he was going to need them.
Grassley said the only time he needs them is when he eats chocolate ice cream before he goes to bed.