Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)
NEW YORK — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met with President-elect Donald Trump in New York on Monday, fueling speculation that the Hawaii Democrat could be in line for a position in the Trump Administration.
Gabbard, 35, who was re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month, caused a stir last summer when she left her position as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee and endorsed the candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
In a CNN interview last week, Gabbard, who is an Iraq War veteran, said it would be a mistake to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad from power. The Obama Administration has called the removal of Assad key to defeating ISIS in the region.
In a statement after the meeting, Gabbard said the two discussed U.S. policy in Syria. Gabbard is among the first Democrats to meet with Trump as he puts together his new administration.
“President-elect Trump asked me to meet with him about our current policies regarding Syria, our fight against terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, as well as other foreign policy challenges we face,” she said. “I felt it important to take the opportunity to meet with the president-elect now before the drumbeats of war that neocons have been beating drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government — a war which has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions of refugees to flee their homes in search of safety for themselves and their families.
“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.
“Serving the people of Hawaii and our nation is an honor and responsibility that I do not take lightly. Representing the aloha spirit and diversity of the people of Hawaii, 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.
“Where I disagree with President-elect Trump on issues, I will not hesitate to express that disagreement. However, I believe we can disagree, even strongly, but still come together on issues that matter to the American people and affect their daily lives. We cannot allow continued divisiveness to destroy our country.
“President-elect Trump and I had a frank and positive conversation in which we discussed a variety of foreign policy issues in depth. I shared with him 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.
“For years, the issue of ending interventionist, regime change warfare has been one of my top priorities. This was the major reason I ran for Congress — I saw first-hand the cost of war, and the lives lost due to the interventionist warmongering policies our country has pursued for far too long.
“Let me be clear, I will never allow partisanship to undermine our national security when the lives of countless people lay in the balance.”