Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) said that the full transcript of a phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, released Sept. 25, does not show a “compelling” case for impeachment.
“Most people reading through that transcript are not going to find that extremely compelling cause to throw out a president that won an election in 2016,” Gabbard told The Hill.
“I think what most people will see is, ‘Hey, this is another move by Democrats to get rid of Donald Trump,’ further deepening the already hyperpartisan divides that we have in this country,” she added.
Gabbard said that she believes Trump is “unfit to serve this country as president” and she is running for the presidency to defeat him.
“I just think it’s so important for our country to be able to move forward to bridge these divides, [such] that it be the American people that make this decision,” she said.
Gabbard’s comments come on the same day that a new poll conducted by Quinnipiac University showed that a majority of Americans indicated they do not want impeachment proceedings against Trump to go ahead. The poll found that 37 percent of registered voters said Trump should be impeached, but another 57 percent said that Trump should not be impeached.
Gabbard had stood apart from Democrats and said in an interview on “Fox & Friends” on Sept. 24 that impeaching the president would be a “terribly divisive” move for the country.
Shortly after her comments, the Democrat-led House of Representatives formally launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) alleging that Trump had “seriously violated the Constitution.”
“This week, the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically,” Pelosi said.
The impeachment inquiry was based on a complaint from an anonymous person who claimed Trump had in July improperly pressured Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. Both Trump and Zelensky have denied the claim.
It was also later revealed that the person said they didn’t have direct knowledge of the call.
Transcript of Phone Call Released
In response, Trump accused House Democrats of pursuing another “witch hunt,” and ordered the release of the transcript, saying that he did so to be transparent and show he did nothing wrong.
At a press conference at the United Nations in New York on Sept. 25, Zelensky said he did not feel pressured by Trump during the July phone call.
“I don’t want to be involved to democratic open elections of USA [sic],” Zelensky said. “You heard that we had good phone call. It was normal. We spoke about many things. I think, and you read it, and nobody pushed me.”
“Nobody can put pressure on me because I am the president of an independent state,” Zelensky noted. “The only one person by the way who can put pressure on me … is my son, who is 6 years old,” he said.
Biden Pressured Ukraine to Fire Prosecutor
In 2018 Joe Biden bragged about pressuring Ukraine to fire a prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, two years previously. Biden did not tell his audience at the time that Shokin was investigating Burisma, an energy company where his son Hunter Biden worked.
Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, have repeatedly urged media outlets to probe the situation involving the Bidens, and multiple current and former Ukrainian officials have said they have evidence the Democratic National Committee interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Prior to the transcript’s release, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said late Sept. 24 he hopes there will be an investigation into Biden’s actions.
“When the [former] Vice President [Joe Biden] told the Ukraine ‘we will take the money away from you unless you fire the prosecutor,’ did he have a conflict of interest because they were looking at his son?” Graham said during an appearance on Fox News’s “Hannity.”
He also said he wanted to know who told the person who filed the complaint against Trump about the phone call, since the person apparently did not have direct knowledge of the call.
“I’ll make an offer tonight on television to the whistleblower: if you want to testify under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee, you’re welcome to do so, because I want to find the truth,” he said.
Epoch Times reporters Zachary Stieber and Emel Akan, and Reuters contributed to this report.