During a Saturday campaign stop in Hudson, New Hampshire, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) told a voter that the impeachment effort against President Trump will only “embolden” him.
During a question and answer session, a male voter stood up and, after noting that Gabbard didn’t “toe the party line” with her vote on impeachment, asked the congresswoman the following question:
If there was incontrovertible evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor, would you have voted “yes” on those articles of impeachment?
“Yeah,” Gabbard replied, before explaining to the man the issues she has with the impeachment effort against the president:
This is part of the problem, though, is that throughout this process, it was and continues to be extremely partisan, and this is something that the Founders warned against in the Federalist Papers … they feared that the process would result in a conclusion that was based on the strength of one party over another, rather than an objective assessment of innocence or guilt, and that such an outcome would only further divide our country.
Gabbard said that she voted “present” in order to “take a stand for our country.”
The congresswoman further stated that President Trump should be defeated “for his multiple wrong doings,” which is why she has proposed a “censure resolution” that charges the president with engaging in “unconstitutional” behavior like “dropping bombs in another country without congressional approval.”
She continued, noting her misgivings about the way in which the process might actually help the president:
I do not want to see Donald Trump further emboldened and strengthened as he will be, as the Senate will exonerate Trump, they will proclaim his innocence, and he’ll then take that message across the country, and unfortunately, we’re likely to see his support grow as a result of that.
The man posed a follow-up question, asking Gabbard if she doesn’t believe there is incontrovertible evidence in the Trump impeachment case, to which Gabbard replied:
I’m saying that the process was flawed. The entire process was flawed, which is why I could not in good conscience vote either yes or no. Trump has committed many acts of wrongdoing that I believe have made our country less safe and [that do] not serve the interests of the American people – it’s why I’m so committed to defeating him, and working to earn the support of Americans across the country, so that we can remove him from office in November of 2020.
Gabbard concluded by stating that the issues with the “process” prevented a “clear look” at what was or wasn’t done by the president.
Also on Saturday, the congresswoman articulated a similar point to ABC: “I think impeachment, unfortunately, will only further embolden Donald Trump, increase his support and the likelihood that he’ll have a better shot at getting elected while also seeing the likelihood that the House will lose a lot of seats to Republicans.”
On December 18, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump. While nearly every Democrat voted in favor of the first and second articles of impeachment, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was the only Democrat to vote “present.”
In a lengthy statement, Gabbard explained that she voted “present” because “removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities…”
President Trump later praised Gabbard for her decision, telling a crowd in Florida:
Then [Hillary Clinton] said Tulsi Gabbard is a weapon of Russia. And they lost all credibility because we know that Tulsi Gabbard – and I give her respect – she didn’t vote the other day. I give her a lot of respect. Because she knew it was wrong, she took a pass. But I don’t know [her], but I know one thing – she is not an agent of Russia.
Whether or not impeachment will “strengthen” the president remains to be seen, but polls indicate that his support is rock steady.
The average of ten “job approval” polls prior to the launching of the impeachment inquiry on September 24 has President Trump at 44.7% approval. As of December 29, the RealClearPolitics polling average has the president at 44.3% approval.
The president’s disapproval numbers have actually gone down, moving from an average of 52.6% in the ten polls leading up to the inquiry announcement to 52.2% as of December 29.
Even after months of negative mainstream media coverage, Trump has experienced a statistically insignificant 0.4% drop in approval and an equally insignificant 0.4% downtick in disapproval.