Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday night, Dec. 18,  denounced Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) for voting “present” on impeachment articles against President Donald Trump, as Gabbard said she “could not in good conscience” vote either for or against the articles.

AOC was in disbelief after Gabbard, a fellow Democrat, caught her off guard when she declared that she will not be taking a side in a historical moment of impeachment.

“Today was very consequential, and to not take a stand one way or another, on a day of such great consequence to this country, I think is quite difficult,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the end of the House vote. “We are sent here to lead.”

“Whenever we have a vote, we should vote ‘yes’ and we should vote ‘no,’” Ocasio-Cortez continued.

These statements come following Gabbard’s absence in procedural votes on Wednesday morning and shocked both sides of the House with her lone “present” votes on both the first and second articles.

The two articles of impeachment have charged the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, though Democrats were unable to provide evidence of these changes to date.

“Voting ‘present’ is a very tough position to be in. To not take a stand in a moment that is so consequential, I think it’s quite difficult,” Ocasio-Cortez reiterated. “I’m sure she’ll be answering [questions] and discussing her rationale in the days ahead.”

Tulsi Gabbard delivered a statement

Tulsi Gabbard, however, provided a lengthy statement explaining why she decided to pick neither side in the House vote.

“On the other side—The president’s opponents insist that if we do not impeach, our country will collapse into dictatorship. All but explicitly, they accuse him of treason. Such extreme rhetoric was never conducive to an impartial fact-finding process.

Although Tulsi Gabbard was not convinced about the president’s innocence, she firmly stood by her choice of not supporting the impeachment procedure as she believes that the removal of a president—an incredibly divisive process—must not be powered by hatred.

“I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing,” the Hawaii Democrat wrote. “I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country.”

“They will express that judgment at the ballot box,” Tulsi Gabbard added, suggesting that voters decide for themselves in the 2020 presidential election. “That is the way real and lasting change has always occurred in this great country: through the forcefully expressed will of the people.”

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