On Wednesday night, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) surprised the political world by voting “present” on impeachment, refusing to take a stand for or against the removal of President Donald Trump. The Democratic presidential candidate has long bucked her party in important ways, and this latest move only confirms her independent thinking.
Gabbard had called for censure against Trump, rather than impeachment, earlier this week.
“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 said in a statement to NBC News.
“I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing,” she explained. “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.”
Many conservatives have argued that while Trump’s conduct may have been wrong, it did not rise anywhere near the level of impeachment. Gabbard’s vote supports this argument.
Gabbard has previously said the transcript of President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky does not show a “compelling” case for impeachment.
In the 2020 Democratic race, Gabbard went after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), helping to make the far-left senator’s support crater.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.