Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), an outspoken critic of her own party, conceded that the House impeachment against President Donald Trump will further “embolden” the president and thereby increase the “likelihood” that he will remain president for the next five years.
Gabbard’s statement comes after she was criticized by her party for being the only Democrat who voted “present” on the two articles of impeachment.
“First, we all know that Trump is not going to be found guilty and removed from the office by the U.S. Senate. It’s not going to happen,” Gabbard said in a video on Dec. 30.
“Second, the impeachment in my view, will actually increase his support amongst voters, and it’s going to make him harder to defeat.”
In 2020, we will have a new president in the White House. How many of you do NOT want that to be Donald Trump? I certainly don’t. Unfortunately, the House impeachment of the president has greatly increased the likelihood Trump will remain the president for the next 5 years … pic.twitter.com/FRRlbWHyo7
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) December 31, 2019
Gabbard added that the House impeachment has also increased the likelihood that Republicans will take over the House of Representatives.
“I’m really concerned that because of this House impeachment, we will end up not only with Donald Trump as president from 2020 to 2024—we’ll actually end up with a Republican controlled Senate and a Republican controlled House,” she said.
Criticism and Praise
Former Hawaii governor and fellow Democrat Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) criticized Gabbard for not voting in favor of Trump’s impeachment and called for Gabbard’s resignation, reported the Huffington Post.
Additionally, on Dec. 24 Gabbard was noticeably absent from a new “unity” fundraising advertisement produced by the Democratic National Committee.
Despite being snubbed by her own party, Gabbard was praised by president Trump for voting “present” on impeachment. Gabbard told ABC News that her vote was “not a decision of neutrality,” rather it was “standing up for the people of this country and our ability to move forward together.”
“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 said in a statement.
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) December 19, 2019
Trump told reporters on Dec. 20: “They lost all credibility because we know Tulsi Gabbard—and I give her respect—she didn’t vote the other day. I give her a lot of respect because she knew it was wrong.”
“She took a pass. But I don’t know. I do know one thing: she’s not an agent of Russia,” Trump added.
Trump’s reference to Gabbard as not being an “agent of Russia” was in response to allegations by former Secretary of State, and 2016 presidential rival, Hillary Clinton that Gabbard is a Russian asset.
Clinton claimed, without offering any evidence, that Gabbard was a “favorite of the Russians” and “they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her, so far.”
Furthermore, Gabbard has been critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi since she announced that House Democrats wouldn’t send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate until they felt a “fair” trial would be held there.
“You can’t kind of just shift and change and make up the rules as you go along. If you’re going to pursue this process, you’ve got to let it play out the whole way through,” Gabbard told The Hill.
Since October, Gabbard has missed about 89 percent of votes in the House as she seeks the Democratic presidential nomination, according to GovTrack.us.
Jack Phillips, Zachary Stieber, and Isabel Van Brugen contributed to this article.