Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, criticized Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after she said that she would delay delivering House-passed impeachment articles against President Trump in an effort to ensure a fair trial in the Senate.
“I was surprised to hear that,” Gabbard told Hill.TV on Thursday, breaking with fellow Democrats who have rallied behind Pelosi over the move.
“You can’t kind of just shift and change and make up the rules as you go along,” she said. “If you’re going to pursue this process, you’ve got to let it play out the whole way through.”
Gabbard said the delaying their delivery perpetuates a sense of hyperpartisanship, adding that both parties are to blame.
“This is not just on part of the Democrats — you see on those who are defending Donald Trump, you see a blind loyalty to their party’s leader,” she said.
The Hill reached out to Pelosi’s office for comment.
The House voted to impeach Trump late Wednesday, making him the third president in U.S. history to be formally charged by the lower chamber.
The articles, which charged Trump with abuse of power over his Ukraine dealings and obstruction of Congress, passed largely along party lines.
Every Republican opposed the impeachment charges, while two Democrats — Reps. Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.) — joined them. Gabbard, meanwhile, voted “present” on both counts.
Gabbard has faced some criticism from Democrats for not picking a side, though the Hawaii congresswoman has long been skeptical of impeachment. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), for example, said Gabbard’s “present” vote amounted to not taking a stand at all on impeaching Trump for his actions with Ukraine.
“Today was very consequential, and to not take a stand one way or another, on a day of such great consequence to this country, I think is quite difficult,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We are sent here to lead.”
Following her vote, Gabbard said in a statement that she “could not in good conscience vote either yes or no,” adding that such an action should “not be the culmination of a partisan process.”
“I am standing in the center and have decided to vote Present,” she wrote. “I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing.”
Gabbard noted that she has introduced a censure resolution, which she argued would highlight Trump’s wrongdoing and call on the president to apologize to the American people for his actions.
Her decision to vote “present” comes amid fears that Gabbard, who did not qualify for the next Democratic primary debate late Thursday, plans to run as a third-party candidate, an accusation the Hawaii congresswoman has repeatedly denied.