Gabbard casts lone ‘present’ vote on impeachment
Tulsi Gabbard, the Hawaii congresswoman seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, voted “present” Wednesday on both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, making her the only member of the chamber not to vote “yes” or “no.”
Her vote wasn’t a complete surprise: prior to the vote, Gabbard introduced a resolution calling for Trump’s censure, rather than impeachment.
Democratic leaders didn’t know how Gabbard would vote Wednesday or if she was even in Washington. But when the vote took place, Gabbard came into the chamber, interacted with just one or two lawmakers and then left immediately after voting — going out through a GOP door.
In a lengthy statement released by her presidential campaign, the Hawaii Democrat framed her votes as decisions that put country before party.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Gabbard added that while she believes “Trump is guilty of wrongdoing,” she couldn’t vote “yes” because the process was partisan and “fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country.”
The congresswoman, who announced in October that she would not seek reelection, noted that she introduced a censure resolution to “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.”
“I am confident that the American people will decide to deliver a resounding rebuke of President Trump’s innumerable improprieties and abuses,” she continued. “And they will express that judgment at the ballot box. That is the way real and lasting change has always occurred in this great country: through the forcefully expressed will of the people.”
The impeachment vote comes on the eve of the final Democratic presidential debate of 2019. PBS NewsHour and POLITICO will host seven candidates at Loyola Marymount University on Thursday night. Gabbard, however, will not be on stage after falling short of the polling requirements.
The president’s impeachment now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate, which is expected to begin its trial early next month. Five Democratic presidential candidates — Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker and Michael Bennet — will sit as silent jurors.
Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.
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