Gabbard says impeachment will only 'embolden' Trump

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic Biden wins all-mail Kansas primary MORE (D-Hawaii), a 2020 presidential candidate, elaborated on her rationale for voting "present" on articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally 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 PetersonFrom farmers to grocery store clerks, thank you to all of our food system Group of House Democrats asks for 0 billion for testing The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Chef José Andrés says most political leaders today are not acting with urgency; Dems crafting 'Rooseveltian' relief package 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.