Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii declined on Tuesday to join the growing number in her caucus who have come out in support of impeaching President Donald Trump.
“I believe that impeachment at this juncture would be terribly divisive for the country at a time when we are already extremely divided. The hyperpartisanship is one of the main things driving our country apart,” Gabbard told “Fox & Friends.”
“I think it’s important to defeat Donald Trump,” she added. “That’s why I’m running for president, but I think it’s the American people who need to make their voices heard making that decision.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will meet with her 235 member caucus on Tuesday in a closed-door meeting to discuss impeachment, Fox News reported.
Pelosi is reportedly set to announce an official impeachment inquiry after the meeting.
Congressional Democrats have seized on reports that Trump may have improperly pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July to investigate his potential 2020 rival former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
While on an official state visit to Ukraine in March 2016, Biden, by his own account, demanded that then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin or not receive $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees.
Shokin “was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member,” according to The Hill’s John Solomon in an Op-Ed.
“What wasn’t known at the time, Shokin told me recently, was that Ukrainian prosecutors were preparing a request to interview Hunter Biden about his activities and the monies he was receiving from Ukraine,” Solomon wrote.
Politico reported that 161 House Democrats have come out in support of impeaching Trump or launching an impeachment inquiry as of Tuesday.
For impeachment to pass the House, 218 lawmakers are needed. If successful, the Republican-controlled Senate would conduct an impeachment hearing in which a two-thirds vote would be required to convict the president and remove him from office.
Seven freshman Democrats from swing districts joined the ranks of those seeking an impeachment inquiry.
The members of Congress — who are all either military veterans or worked in defense or intelligence agencies — wrote in a Tuesday Washington Post Op-Ed if the allegations against Trump are true, “we believe they represent an impeachable offense.”
The lawmakers focused on the accusation the president withheld military aid from Ukraine in a bid to push the country to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden.
Trump addressed that allegation on Tuesday telling reporters during a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the United Nations that the payment to Ukraine was in fact made in September.
He explained that he had ordered it delayed after Zelensky came to office in July in order to push other nations to also contribute, but after Republican Sen. Rob Portman and others urged him to release the aid he did.
“There was never any quid pro quo,” Trump said.
Trump also tweeted Tuesday that he has authorized the release of the unredacted transcript of his conversation with Zelensky.
On Saturday, Ukraine’s foreign minister dismissed media accounts that Trump wrongly pressured his country to investigate the Bidens.
“I know what the conversation was about, and I don’t think there was any coercion,” Vadym Prystaiko told a Ukrainian news outlet.
Asked on Monday how seriously he was taking Democratic calls for his impeachment, Trump replied, “Not at all.”
“The one who’s got the problem is Biden,” Trump said. “’Cause you look at what Biden did. Biden did what they would like to have me do except for one problem. I didn’t do it. What Biden did is a disgrace. What his son did is a disgrace.”
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