U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) met with President-elect Donald Trump Monday to discuss foreign policy matters, including the U.S.'s role in Syria and the fight against terrorism, and possibly a position in the Trump administration. Gabbard represents Hawaii's 2nd district, is a former vice chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and supported Bernie Sanders in the primary.
In a statement, Gabbard described her meeting with Trump as a "frank and positive conversation" on foreign policy, and said that while it may not have been a politically expedient move, she was not going to put political expediency and playing politics above making sure these issues were addressed.
“While the rules of political expediency would say I should have refused to meet with President-elect Trump, I never have and never will play politics with American and Syrian lives,” she stated.
"I shared with [Mr. Trump] my grave concerns that escalating the war in Syria by implementing a so-called no-fly/safe zone would be disastrous for the Syrian people, our country and the world. It would lead to more death and suffering, exacerbate the refugee crisis, strengthen ISIS and Al Qaeda, and bring us into a direct conflict with Russia, which could result in a nuclear war. We discussed my bill to end our country’s illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government, and the need to focus our precious resources on rebuilding our own country, and on defeating Al Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist groups who pose a threat to the American people.” - U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)
It is not the first time in the past couple of weeks that Gabbard has rebelled against her own party in her approach to the Trump administration. She also did not sign a letter from 169 of her colleagues on November 16 denouncing the appointment of Stephen Bannon as Trump's chief strategist and has mostly been silent on his appointments.
Gabbard resigned her position as DNC vice chair in February and endorsed U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president. Gabbard said the DNC was silencing her, and it even punished her in October 2015 by disinviting her from attending a primary debate after she said there should be more debates.
“It’s very dangerous when we have people in positions of leadership who use their power to try to quiet those who disagree with them,” she said in October 2015. “When I signed up to be vice chair of the D.N.C., no one told me I would be relinquishing my freedom of speech and checking it at the door.”
Gabbard is not only one of the youngest members in Congress, but she is also the first Hindu elected to Congress. She is also the first American Samoan elected to the House and one of its first female veterans, along with U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Il.).
Gabbard did not comment on whether or not she would join the Trump administration, but did say that while she would not heistate to raise any disagreements with the president elect, she would work with him and believes they can come together on some issues.
“I will continue to seek common ground to deliver results that best serve all Americans, as I have tried to do during my time in Congress," she said.