(BIVN) – The Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to impeach President Donald Trump.
The House approved two articles of impeachment: abuse of power, which was approved by a 230 to 197 vote, and obstruction of Congress, which was passed by 229 to 198 margin. On both articles, there was one member of Congress who voted “present”, which counts as neither a yes or no. That member was Representative Tulsi Gabbard, the Hawaiʻi Democrat who is also seeking her party’s presidential nomination.
After her vote, Gabbard issued this statement:
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.
I am confident that the American people will decide to deliver a resounding rebuke of President Trump’s innumerable improprieties and abuses. And they will express that judgment at the ballot box. That is the way real and lasting change has always occurred in this great country: through the forcefully expressed will of the people.
A house divided cannot stand. And today we are divided. Fragmentation and polarity are ripping our country apart. This breaks my heart, and breaks the hearts of all patriotic Americans, whether we are Democrats, Republicans, or Independents.
So today, I come before you to make a stand for the center, to appeal to all of you to bridge our differences and stand up for the American people.
My vote today is a vote for much needed reconciliation and hope that together we can heal our country. Let’s work side-by-side, seeking common ground, to usher in a bright future for the American people, our country, and our nation.
Gabbard instead introduced a resolution calling on the House to censure President Trump.
The candidate seeking to fill Gabbard’s house seat as she pursues her oval office ambition, State Senator Kai Kahele, released this statement:
“As someone who has sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States both as a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard and as an elected official, I understand the heavy burden and responsibility placed on public servants who are entrusted to protect the core pillars of our democracy. Instead of draining the swamp, President Donald Trump’s corrupt actions have eroded the public’s trust in our government.
President Trump has abused the powers of his office. He has put his own political self-interests above the national security interests of the United States by soliciting a foreign government to interfere in our elections while withholding crucial military aid needed to combat escalating Russian aggression against an ally. Rather than honoring his oath, he has obstructed the lawful and constitutional process of Congress exercising its oversight responsibilities over the executive branch. It has become clear to me that impeachment is now the only remedy to hold this President accountable and prevent him from further weakening the foundation that our representative democracy is built on, and that all Americans are entitled to, free and fair elections.
The House of Representatives upheld its constitutional duty this evening, now it is time for the United States Senate to put country above party loyalty and do the same”.
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D, Hawaiʻi) called Wednesday’s vote “a somber time for our country, but one our founders specifically contemplated when they gave Congress the authority to impeach a president.”
“The Senate has a solemn obligation to fully consider these allegations. It is a responsibility I take seriously,” Sen. Schatz said. “As we move forward with the Senate trial, I will continue to study the facts in the case, the legal and constitutional history of impeachment, and prepare to serve as a fair juror. With this proceeding before us, the United States Senate is being called to act as the founders envisioned more than two centuries ago.”