‘Removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, broke with her party during Wednesday’s vote on impeachment, voting “present” instead of voting for or against the Democrats’ articles.
Gabbard said she “came to the conclusion that I could not in good conscience vote either yes or no” after reading the 658-page impeachment report released by House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
“I am standing in the center and have decided to vote Present,” Gabbard said in a statement released after the vote.
“I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing,” she said. “I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country.”
Gabbard introduced an amendment to formally censure Trump, but the motion was denied by her Democratic colleagues, many of whom have slammed Gabbard’s vote as a “cop-out.”
“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,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, D-NY, said. “We are sent here to lead.”
Hawaii state Sen. Kai Kahele agreed: “Clearly her vote is unacceptable. It’s disappointing,” he told USA Today.
“The two most consequential votes a member of Congress will ever take are to send our troops into harm’s way… and a vote to impeach the president of the United States,” Kahele continued. “… That’s not what the taxpayers of Hawaii sent her here for.”
Gabbard said that Trump’s removal from office must be something the voters decide.
“I am confident that the American people will decide to deliver a resounding rebuke of President Trump’s innumerable improprieties and abuses, and they will express that judgment at the ballot box,” she said. “That is the way real and lasting change has always occurred in this great country: through the forcefully expressed will of the people.”
Throughout the House process, Trump’s approval rating has held steady if not slightly risen. Support for the president’s impeachment, meanwhile, has fallen despite their efforts to sell the narrative to the public.
Democrats—including more than 30 vulnerable House freshmen from districts Trump carried—now face the daunting prospect of a GOP-led Senate trial in which Trump and his supporters will likely set more favorable terms to present their defense, if not dismiss the partisan House effort altogether.