On Saturday, President Trump spoke at a Turning Point USA conference in Florida where he heaped praise on Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) for her “present” vote on impeachment.
They knew a few days into the Russian witch hunt that it was nothing. It didn’t exist. Did you the see the other day? Crooked Hillary came out … she said that Jill Stein from the Green Party, she said Jill Stein was a Russian agent. Now, I don’t know Jill Stein, I’m sure she’s a fine woman, but I know she’s not a Russian agent.
Then she 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.
On Wednesday, the House voted to impeach President Trump.
The vote fell mostly along party lines. 229 Democrats voted in favor of Article I and 228 Democrats voted in favor of Article II. 195 Republicans voted against both articles of impeachment (two Republicans didn’t vote). However, several Democrats voted with Republicans against impeachment.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” for both articles. She was the only Democrat to do so.
In a statement released following her vote, Gabbard explained her thought process as it pertained to her “present” vote:
Throughout my life, whether through serving in the military or in Congress, I’ve always worked to do what is in the best interests of our country. Not what’s best for me politically or what’s best for my political party. I have always put our country first. One may not always agree with my decision, but everyone should know that I will always do what I believe to be right for the country that I love.
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.
I am standing in the center and have decided to vote Present. I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing.
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. When I cast my vote in support of the impeachment inquiry nearly three months ago, I said that in order to maintain the integrity of this solemn undertaking, it must not be a partisan endeavor. Tragically, that’s what it has been.
On the one side – The president’s defenders insist that he has done nothing wrong. They agree with the absurd proclamation that his conduct was “perfect.” They have abdicated their responsibility to exercise legitimate oversight, and instead blindly do the bidding of their party’s leader.
On the other side – The president’s opponents insist that if we do not impeach, our country will collapse into dictatorship. All but explicitly, they accuse him of treason. Such extreme rhetoric was never conducive to an impartial fact-finding process.
Gabbard went on to speak about how the Founders warned against partisan impeachment, citing Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers. The congresswoman added that she has “introduced a censure resolution that will send a strong message to this president and future presidents that their abuses of power will not go unchecked, while leaving the question of removing Trump from office to the voters to decide.”
The censure resolution can be read here.
Additionally, Gabbard posted a video to Twitter explaining her vote:
My ‘present’ vote was an active protest against the zero-sum game the two opposing political sides have trapped America in. My vote and campaign is about freeing our country from this damaging mindset so we can work side-by-side to usher in a bright future for all #StandWithTulsi pic.twitter.com/nmhEL5bi4Q
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) December 19, 2019
President Trump has defended Gabbard before.
During an October interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump stated: “Hillary Clinton said … Jill Stein is a Russian asset. Now I don’t know Jill Stein. I know her as an environmentalist, okay, and probably a good woman. The last thing she is is a Russian asset. I don’t know Tulsi Gabbard but I know one thing – she is not an asset of Russia. These people are sick. There’s something wrong with them.”