Gabbard says impeachment will only 'embolden' Trump

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardThe perfect Democratic running mate for DeSantis? Progressives breathe sigh of relief after Afghan withdrawal Hillicon Valley: US has made progress on cyber but more needed, report says | Democrat urges changes for 'problematic' crypto language in infrastructure bill | Facebook may be forced to unwind Giphy acquisition MORE (D-Hawaii), a 2020 presidential candidate, elaborated on her rationale for voting "present" on articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE, telling ABC News impeachment proceedings will only "embolden" the president.

"I think impeachment, unfortunately, will only further embolden Donald Trump, increase his support and the likelihood that he'll have a better shot at getting elected while also seeing the likelihood that the House will lose a lot of seats to Republicans," Gabbard told ABC in New Hampshire on Saturday.

Gabbard, who has announced she will not seek reelection to her House seat, said she was concerned Trump’s all but inevitable acquittal in the Republican Senate could ensure “lasting damage” in the event Trump is reelected and the GOP regains control of the House.

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Gabbard was the only Democrat to vote “present” on the articles. Rep. Collin PetersonCollin Clark Peterson Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Six ways to visualize a divided America On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 MORE (D-Minn.) voted no, while Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (R-N.J.), who also voted against them, made his plans to switch parties from Democratic to Republican official a day later.

Gabbard has previously talked about her intention to introduce a resolution censuring the president.

Immediately after the vote, she blasted the "zero sum mindset" of both parties, saying, "I am standing in the center and have decided to vote present, because I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing."

In her remarks to ABC, she defended her vote as prioritizing principle over political expediency. “Thinking about what's politically advantageous, whether for me or for my party, does not enter into my mind around these decisions that have really great consequence,” she told the outlet.