Partisan passage of impeachment articles against President Donald Trump has put Congresswoman and Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) in the spotlight because she was the only House member to vote “Present,” infuriating at least some of her colleagues and providing Gabbard with a “breakout” moment that could benefit her trailing campaign.
Gabbard released a statement, quoted by the New York Post and other publications, in which she explained, “After doing my due diligence in reviewing the 658-page impeachment report, I came to the conclusion that I could not in good conscience vote either yes or no.”
Gabbard’s vote miffed far-left Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who told reporters after the strict party-line impeachment vote, “Today was very consequential, and to not take a stand one way or another, on a day of such great consequence to this country, I think is quite difficult. We are sent here to lead.”
While AOC’s critics might counter that she and her colleagues were “sent” to Capitol Hill to serve their constituents, Gabbard didn’t take that route.
Quoted by National Interest online, Gabbard explained, “My motivation is always coming from a deep love of country. And that’s where, after doing my due diligence and going through the exhaustive report that was put out … I came to that conclusion that I could not, in good conscience, vote either ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”
“A ‘no’ vote was unacceptable to me because Donald Trump is absolutely guilty of wrongdoing,” Gabbard added.
“A ‘yes’ vote was unacceptable to me because impeachment should never come about as a culmination of a highly partisan process,” she said. “This is something that our founders warned us about.”
Gabbard is not a pioneer for voting “present.” According to a story that appeared years ago in the New York Times, then-Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama voted “present” on multiple occasions. It was, said the newspaper, “an option he invoked nearly 130 times as a state senator.”
Rep. Gabbard, who also serves in the Hawaii Army National Guard, did not speak on the House floor during the impeachment debate Wednesday. The New York Post noted she was seen standing against the wall in the rear of the chamber, behind where Republicans sit. Whether there was any significance to that remains to be seen.
According to the Washington Examiner, “left-wing Democratic activist Charlotte Clymer accused Gabbard of being indifferent to treason.”
“Meanwhile,” the Examiner reported, “the establishment flak and ex-Hillary Clinton acolyte Neera Tanden seized on the congresswoman’s vote to say that she ‘called Tulsi Gabbard two years ago,’ referencing her long-standing campaign to paint the veteran as a Russian asset and traitor. Even the formerly conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin chimed in after Gabbard’s vote, saying, ‘Gabbard shows her stripes.’”
Gabbard recently announced she will not participate in Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate “even if she met the necessary thresholds,” according to MSNBC.
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