Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawaii), a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, voted "present" on the two articles of impeachment against President Trump on Wednesday. This made her one of the only Democrats to effectively cast a no vote on charging the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D–N.J.) voted no on impeachment, but is expected to switch parties.*
Gabbard is the first-ever representative to vote "present" during an impeachment inquiry, according to The Daily Beast.
In a statement, Gabbard said that Trump is guilty of wrongdoing, but that she could not endorse a "purely partisan process."
"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 become a partisan endeavor," said Gabbard. "Tragically, that's what it has been."
Gabbard characterized her actions as a "stand for the center"—a center that neither excuses Trump's wrongdoing, nor supports his ousting mere months before a presidential election.
Regardless of whether you agree with Gabbard's stance, it's quite refreshing to see a politician who is willing to go against her own party. The same goes for Rep. Justin Amash (I–Mich.), who left the Republican Party and voted for Trump's impeachment because he puts his limited government principles before partisanship. In these incredibly tribal times, such independent thinking is incredibly rare. Most members of Congress seem obligated to either defend Trump at all costs—no matter how contemptible his behavior—or advocate his immediate removal from office by any means necessary.
CORRECTION: Two other Democrats cast dissenting votes. Rep. Collin Peterson (D–Minn.) voted no on both articles of impeachment, and Rep. Jared Golden (D–Maine) voted no on one of them.