Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) drew applause from President Trump for not voting for the articles of impeachment against him during the historic vote in the House of Representatives on Dec. 18.
The Democratic presidential candidate didn’t vote against them, either, but just voted “present” prompting Trump to praise the Hawaii Democrat for her stance on his impeachment.
“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, but I know one thing. She is not an agent of Russia,” Trump said at a Turning Point USA conference in Florida on Dec. 21, according to USA Today and other media reports.
Gabbard made waves by voting “present” during the House vote to charge Trump with two articles of impeachment, blasting the impeachment proceedings as a “partisan endeavor” and saying she had decided to stand “in the center” rather than vote yes or no.
Gabbard, however, did not say that she declined to vote one way or the other on the president’s impeachment because she thought it was “wrong” but because she was concerned about the lack of bipartisan support for his removal, according to USA Today.
Vox.com in a Dec. 18 report said quoting her that her decision came down to not being swayed by the evidence of misconduct collected by the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment inquiry and laid out in a lengthy report.
“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,” she was quoted as saying by Vox.com
She went on to say she believes Trump is “guilty of wrongdoing,” but that she had serious concerns about the process itself, calling it “a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country.”
It was not the first time Gabbard has been an outlier. Although she is running for president as a Democrat, she has taken a number of stances at odds with the Democratic mainstream.
The Vox.com report noted that she has railed against “regime change wars” on the 2020 debate stages, and has been accused of being overly warm to Russia, something that led former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to attack her as “the favorite of the Russians” in the 2020 race.
Her action drew sharp criticism from Hawaiian State Sen. Kai Kahele, who is running to fill her seat since Gabbard does not plan to run for re-election next year.
“Clearly her vote is unacceptable. It’s disappointing,” Kahele said, adding it was “not what the taxpayers of Hawaii sent her here for.” Criticism also poured in on social media as people used #TulsiCoward to share attacks on the Iraq war veteran.