Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was the only House Democrat on Wednesday to vote “present” on both articles of impeachment against Donald Trump.
“I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing,” the 2020 presidential hopeful said in a statement, adding that she was “standing in the centre” with her votes.
“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.”
Gabbard had some harsh words for both parties: the GOP, she argued, have “abdicated their responsibility to exercise legitimate oversight, and instead blindly do the bidding of their party’s leader”, while the Dems have employed an “extreme rhetoric [that] was never conducive to an impartial fact-finding process”.
The Hawaii congresswoman, 38, initially did not back the impeachment inquiry into President Trump whein it was announced in September because she was afraid it would be “terribly divisive”. She changed that stance later, however, but continued to criticise the inquiry for being run in a “partisan” way.
A bitterly divided House of Representatives on Wednesday took the historic step of impeaching President Trump. The Democrats allege that Trump attempted to gain domestic political advantage when he asked Ukraine’z Zelenskyy to investigate the family of Joe Biden, another 2020 Democratic hopeful, for corruption and used congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine as a bargaining chip.
Trump is also accused of obstructing the efforts of Congress to investigate that affair by refusing to cooperate with the investigators and ordering government officials to defy subpoenas. Those two accusations, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, constitute two articles of impeachment that will be then handed over to the Republican-controlled Senate for trial next year. The president insists he was acting lawfully and has repeatedly bashed the impeachment inquiry and the Democrats leading it.
The first article passed with 230 votes to 197 and the vote on the second one was 229 to 197. Not a single Republican voted for either of them. Two Democratic congressmen, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota, voted against the first article and a third Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine, crossed the aisle on the obstruction charge.