Politics

Trump Discusses Syria With Democrat Tulsi Gabbard

Hawaii congresswoman mum on prospects of joining new administration

Tulsi Gabbard met with President-elect Trump Monday to discuss Syria, the Islamic State and al-Qaida. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard discussed Syria, the Islamic State and al-Qaida during a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump on Monday, the Hawaii Democrat said in a statement that did not specify whether she’s being considered for a post in the incoming administration. 

The sophomore congresswoman, an Iraq War veteran, is the first Democratic lawmaker to visit the president-elect at Trump Tower in New York, where he’s been holding meetings with potential Cabinet and administrative appointees, as well as with people who have ideas he wants to hear. 

“President-elect Trump asked me to meet with him about our current policies regarding Syria, our fight against terrorist groups like al-Qaida and ISIS, as well as other foreign policy challenges we face,” Gabbard, an Iraq combat veteran and member of the Armed Services Committee, said in her statement.

“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,” she added.

Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Gabbard and the president-elect found “a lot of common ground. I think they both understood the country very well. Rep. Gabbard went against her party quite boldly early on. I think you are hearing people like Rep. Tim Ryan also raising concerns. Bernie Sanders today was also quoted as saying they should stop identity politics in the Democratic Party. ... So I think there’s a recognition that there’s a big country, a massive amount of voters that feel disaffected from their party, the Democrats.”

[Tulsi Gabbard Resigns From DNC to Back Bernie Sanders]

Gabbard served as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee until the end of February, when she stepped down from the post to endorse Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. At the time, she dished out heavy criticism of Hillary Clinton and her tenure as secretary of State.

“With Hillary,” she told CNN, “we’ve seen not only was she a champion for the Iraq war, she was the architect for the war in Libya to overthrow [Moammar] Gadhafi, which we’ve seen has resulted in tremendous loss of life and chaos, and now, with ISIS and al-Qaida having a stronghold in that country.”

“Now, she continues to push for the same kind of regime change in Syria with an escalation by putting a so-called no-fly zone in place that puts us directly at odds with Russia,” Gabbard said.

Monday’s conversation with Trump about foreign policy was “frank and positive,” Gabbard said, noting that she discussed her opposition to a no-fly zone and legislation she has authored to de-escalate American military involvement there.

Gabbard, 35, said she would  “not hesitate” to express areas of disagreement with Trump but that those divisions, however strong, should not prevent them from working together on issues of agreement. 

The congresswoman’s 440-word statement read in one breath like she did not want a job in a Trump administration but, in the next sentence, like she would be open to an appointment.

“Serving the people of Hawaii and our nation is an honor and responsibility that I do not take lightly,” she said. “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.”

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