from 21st Century Wire:
(WASHINGTON DC) – Last night, Hawaii Congresswoman and presidential candidate, Tulsi Gabbard defied House Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party whip by voting “present” on two articles of impeachment being brought against President Donald Trump over alleged ‘high crimes and misdemeanors” regarding White House relations with ally Ukraine.
As it turns out, Gabbard is the only presidential candidate who has had a vote on impeachment. She has also been critical of the proceeding, labeling them as highly ‘polarizing’ for the country, accusing her party’s leadership of conducting “a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities.”
“I came to the conclusion that I could not in good conscience vote either yes or no … I am standing in the center and have decided to vote present.”
Early this week, Gabbard had introduced a House resolution to censure Trump, as opposed to removing him from office.
According to Axios, a censure is the “less severe” alternative to removing a president from office, and serves as a “formal statement of disapproval,” and added that President Andrew Jackson was the only president in US history to have been censured.
Gabbard wasn’t the only Democrat to break ranks and defy Pelosi’s whip. Collin C. Peterson (MN-D) and Jeff Van Drew (NJ-D) voted against both articles of impeachment. Representative Jared Golden (ME-D) partially opposed the two articles, singling-out the article which accuses Trump of obstruction of Congress.
A house divided cannot stand. Sadly, our nation is terribly divided. My vote today is a vote for much needed reconciliation and hope that together we can heal our country to usher in a bright future for the American people, our country, and our nation. #Impeachment #TulsiGabbard pic.twitter.com/BJddNuhkk7
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) December 19, 2019
The following is the text of Gabbard’s official statement on last night’s impeachment vote:
Throughout my life, whether through serving in the military or in Congress, I’ve always worked to do what is in the best interests of our country. Not what’s best for me politically or what’s best for my political party. I have always put our country first. 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.
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.
I am standing in the center and have decided to vote Present. I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing.
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. When I cast my vote in support of the impeachment inquiry nearly three months ago, I said that in order to maintain the integrity of this solemn undertaking, it must not be a partisan endeavor. Tragically, that’s what it has been.
On the one side — The president’s defenders insist that he has done nothing wrong. They agree with the absurd proclamation that his conduct was “perfect.” They have abdicated their responsibility to exercise legitimate oversight, and instead blindly do the bidding of their party’s leader.
On the other side — The president’s opponents insist that if we do not impeach, our country will collapse into dictatorship. All but explicitly, they accuse him of treason. Such extreme rhetoric was never conducive to an impartial fact-finding process.
The Founders of our country made clear their concerns about impeachment being a purely partisan exercise. In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton warned against any impeachment that would merely “connect itself with the pre-existing factions,” and “enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other.” In such cases, he said, “there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”
Donald Trump has violated public trust. Congress must be unequivocal in denouncing the president’s misconduct and stand up for the American people and our democracy. To this end, I have introduced a censure resolution that will 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.