Gabbard, who is vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, was the only member of the House to vote as present on the two articles of impeachment against Trump.
In a statement after the historic vote, Gabbard ― who, even at the eleventh hour, had said she was undecided on whether she would vote to impeach ― explained that she’d ultimately decided to vote as present because she “could not in good conscience vote either yes or no.”
“I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing,” she said. “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.”
Gabbard described her vote as “a vote for much needed reconciliation and hope that together we can heal our country,”
Gabbard went on to say that, as a compromise, she had introduced a resolution in the House calling for President Trump’s censure ― an idea that has previously been floated by some moderate Democrats but has been roundly rebuffed by others in the party.
A censure would “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,” Gabbard said.
The vast majority of Gabbard’s Democratic colleagues voted Wednesday to impeach Trump. Reps. Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Jeff Van Drew (N.J.) were the only Democrats who voted against both articles of impeachment ― abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) voted to impeach on the first charge but not the second.