20:27 GMT02 April 2020
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    Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) has been attacked once more for voting “present” as the House passed articles of impeachment against US President Donald Trump, but a journalist told Sputnik the move was a “principled stand” amid an “unprincipled Congress” that refuses to check Trump on his much larger crimes.

    The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted mostly along party lines to impeach Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He is believed to have threatened to withhold military aid to pressure Ukraine into opening an investigation into former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings regarding Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. 

    Gabbard, who is also a candidate in the Democratic presidential primary race, was the only Democrat to vote “present” on both articles of impeachment, saying in a statement following the votes that she “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.”

    “I think that’s a principled stand and an unprincipled Congress,” Joe Lauria, editor-in-chief of Consortium News, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear Thursday.

    "That’s a very strong and conscientious decision to take, as she says she believed Trump was guilty but she couldn’t in her good conscience vote for impeachment,” Lauria told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker, noting that there were other, far more deplorable crimes for which Trump should have been impeached.

    “There are at least four things that Trump has done that he could be impeached for,” Lauria told Sputnik.

    One is “stealing the oil in Syria,” which Lauria noted is considered pillaging under international law, including the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Further, it violates the US’ own Lieber Code, which was signed by former US President Abraham Lincoln to dictate how soldiers should behave in wartime.

    The second is “Israeli settlements being called ‘legal’ by the Trump administration,” Lauria said, which Trump changed long-standing US policy on last month.

    The third impeachable offense Lauria noted was “pardoning the war criminal” Eddie Gallagher last month. Gallagher, a US Navy SEAL, was convicted of unlawfully taking a photo with the corpse of a Daesh fighter during a 2017 deployment in Mosul, Iraq, an act that violates the military code of justice and could be considered a war crime of sorts.

    Trump’s fourth offense is “extrajudicial drone killings,” Lauria told Sputnik.

    Those are the crimes “we should see this man being impeached for,” Lauria said. “Trump also supports torture, which is clearly against international and US law. Why aren’t we hearing about that?” 

    Gabbard has also failed to meet the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) strict requirements to qualify for the sixth Democratic debate, which takes place Thursday night in Los Angeles, California. While she reached the donor threshold for the upcoming event, she still needed to reach 4% or higher in a poll approved by the DNC to qualify. 

    However, whether she does or not, Gabbard has previously said she still wouldn’t attend the debate.

    “Well, I could imagine maybe it has to do with the incredible stress that’s involved here, and it’s not worth it for her to be put through this meat grinder. I can only speculate that that would be the reason … maybe she feels it’s not a legitimate process, that this is not a fair debate. She doesn’t get enough time, and she’s being attacked, and it’s just too much for her, maybe,” Lauria said.

    Gabbard has already made clear that she doesn’t want to attend the debates due to questions over the legitimacy of their qualifying metrics and how they are run. Back in October, the congresswoman blasted the corporate media and the DNC’s use of “polling and other arbitrary methods which are not transparent or democratic” as requirements for their “so-called debates.” Most recently, she cited “a number of reasons” for skipping the December 19 debate.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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