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Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard votes ‘present’, effectively abstaining over Trump impeachment

Tulsi Gabbard has put herself on a collision course with her Democratic colleagues after surprisingly voting “present” – effectively abstaining – instead of backing her party and opting to impeach President Trump.

Ms Gabbard, who is a presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, said she “came to the conclusion that I could not in good conscience vote either yes or no” following a process that she said was “partisan” and “fuelled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country”.

The Democrats in the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favour of impeaching the US president on Thursday on two charges, that he abused his power and that he obstructed Congress. Every Republican representative voted against the two articles, a symbol of the fierce partisan division over the issue.

Ms Gabbard, who as a representative for Hawaii was the only member of the Democratic presidential field able to vote on impeachment, had said on Monday that she was undecided as to how to vote.

After the House voted to impeach Mr Trump on Wednesday evening, Ms Gabbard released a long statement defending her position, saying that she was acting in “the best interests of the country”.

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