An online news site Axios reported Monday that U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) was vetted for a possible job in the Trump administration leading the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Axios included a list of people who were vetted and eventually hired by President Donald Trump, including Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos and Elaine Chao. Others on the list were not hired, including Gabbard, Chris Christie and Laura Ingraham.
The documents were leaked to Axios.
Gabbard, who is running for president, stands out because she is a Democrat and Trump is a Republican, as are most of the officials listed. She is also running for president in 2020.
The six pages on Gabbard begin with a quote from a story in The Washington Post in October 2016: “Gabbard’s resume is a political operative’s dream. She is the first American Samoan elected to Congress. She was the first elected Hindu (she took her oath of office Bhagavad Gita) and one of two female combat veterans to join Congress in 2013. Oh, and the then-31-year old was also the youngest woman in Congress at the time.”
But the background check on Gabbard also has a section titled “Top Questions for Tulsi Gabbard: Political Vulnerabilities,” where concerns are raised about her backing of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and the fact that in 2014 Gabbard missed a Veterans Affairs hearing on the clinic care crisis to do an “extreme surfing” interview with Yahoo News.
“Are you prepared to apologize for the incident in which you were doing a media interview and surfing during a VA hearing and pledge not to allow something similar to occur as Secretary?” the background document asks.
The surfing story was first reported in Civil Beat. Other news stories in the background check include ones from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporting on Gabbard’s “thin policy resume” and few accomplishments while serving in the Hawaii Legislature and on the Honolulu City Council.
No Comment From Gabbard
The Trump background check also includes excerpts from news reports in which Gabbard criticized Trump and Mike Pence, now the vice president.
Axios said Gabbard “did not respond to a request for comment.”
An email inquiry from Civil Beat to Gabbard’s Washington, D.C., office Monday did not receive an immediate response.
Gabbard met the president-elect at Trump Tower in New York City shortly after the 2016 election. The Hill reported at the time that Gabbard “vowed to work” with the new president but did not comment on whether she would join his administration.
Whatever Gabbard’s intentions at the time, she has since become an outspoken critic of Trump’s foreign policy, in particular the administration’s position on Iran.
Meanwhile, last November Gabbard said “being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not ‘America First.'”
The comment came one day after Trump “pledged loyalty to the country and its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, despite growing evidence he was behind the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.”
Some sections of the Axios documents on Gabbard are redacted.
“We redacted personal details that weren’t newsworthy, information from spurious sources, and material the vetting team described as rumors about contenders’ personal lives, and contact and identification information,” Axios explains. “All the unredacted information is from public sources.”
‘No More Presidential Wars’
On Monday, Gabbard’s office announced in a press release that she had “secured two separate provisions in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, passed by the House Armed Services Committee, ensuring that no measure in the bill may be used as an authorization for the use of military force against either Iran or Venezuela.”
Gabbard is quoted as saying, “The Trump Administration continues to escalate tensions with Iran, pushing us closer to the brink of war.”
She also reintroduced the No More Presidential Wars resolution “which would prohibit the President from starting a war without Congressional authorization.”
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