Top Democrats are taking aim at one of their own, assailing Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for appearing to defend Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad against allegations his regime dumped chemical weapons on a rebel-held area.
Center for American Progress head Neera Tanden, who was a trusted adviser to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean lit into Gabbard on Twitter for her Syria stance.
“This is a disgrace. Gabbard should not be in Congress,” Dean tweeted on Saturday.
This is a disgrace. Gabbard should not be in Congress. https://t.co/yDTh43GZam— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) April 9, 2017
The former Vermont governor and short-lived presidential candidate was responding to a tweet from Tanden that highlighted Gabbard saying she was “skeptical” that Assad’s regime carried out the chemical attacks. Assad’s guilt has been accepted by most U.S. officials, and President Trump authorized a retaliatory strike on Thursday in response to the horrific assault.
“People of Hawaii’s 2nd district – was it not enough for you that your rep met with a murderous dictator? Will this move you?” Tanden wrote.
People of Hawaii's 2nd district - was it not enough for you that your rep met with a murderous dictator? Will this move you?1 https://t.co/jbwGuZIJ6R— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) April 7, 2017
But Gabbard, who met with Assad earlier this year, has appeared largely unmoved by evidence that Assad was behind the chemical attack on April 4 in Idlib that killed more than 70 people, including children, and injured hundreds more.
“U.S. attacks on Syria won’t save children, rather will strengthen Al Qaeda’s attempts to overtake Syria, leading to more deaths and refugees,” she tweeted Friday in response to the Trump-ordered missile attack.
Gabbard has claimed that Assad is not alone in possessing chemical weapons, also suggesting that rebel and terror groups inside Syria have access to them; however, only Assad’s regime, among those groups, has jets such as the ones reportedly used to drop the chemical agent on Idlib. But as evidence mounts against Assad, Gabbard’s arguments have shifted to railing against the push for regime change.
“Escalating Syria regime change war = more children and innocent people dying. #ResistTrumpsWar now,” she tweeted Friday, adding: “Have we not learned from Iraq and Libya? The road to hell is paved w/ good intentions. Escalation means more dead children, more refugees.”
Escalating Syria regime change war = more children and innocent people dying. #ResistTrumpsWar now.— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) April 9, 2017
On Monday, Gabbard addressed her critics: “Those who’ve declared Trump a habitual liar now vilify those refusing to blindly follow him into another regime change war. Hypocrisy.”
Gabbard visited Syria in January, meeting with Assad during a controversial “fact-finding” trip in the region. She was accompanied by former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Fox News contributor, who at the time stressed the importance of letting Syrians decide their political future.
Given Gabbard’s journey from rising Democratic star – who also was under consideration for a Trump Cabinet position – to her recent position urging caution in addressing Assad's atrocities, Tanden wrote that she felt deceived.
Referencing a tweet from December 2012, when Tanden praised Gabbard as potential Senate material, Tanden tweeted: “Yes, I thought this before she met with a ruthless dictator.
“I was had.”