In what proved to be a very contentious exchange between Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and MSNBC anchor Yasmin Vossoughian, the Hawaii Democrat accused the network of using talking points from the campaign of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
Gabbard, an Iraqi War combat veteran, and Harris had a tense exchange Wednesday during the Democratic presidential primary debate, with the congresswoman scoring a major blow in attacking Harris over her record as an attorney general — this prompted Harris to slam Gabbard as a lesser candidate and a Bashar al-Assad “apologist” for meeting with the Syrian dictator.
With Gabbard being critical of President Trump on Saudi Arabia in an interview with Vossoughian on Thursday, the MSNBC host used the occasion to pivot to Gabbard’s meeting with al-Asaad.
“Congresswoman, do you not believe that the same could be said for your meeting with Bashar al-Assad?” Vossoughian asked.
“I don’t know how you could equate that,” a surprised Gabbard replied.
“That you would be meeting with the leader of Syria who could feasibly be responsible for the killings of over half a million people,” Vossoughian explained. “Who ordered the chemical attacks on children in his own country?”
Gabbard said that she would “never apologize for doing all that I can to prevent more of my brothers and sisters in uniform from being sent into harm’s way to fight another regime change war,” going on to list the cost in both lives and money of such actions.
She cited President John Kennedy meeting with the Soviet Union’s Nikita Khrushchev and President Franklin D. Roosevelt meeting with “murderous dictator” Joseph Stalin as instances where it was in the best interest of our country.
Not to be deterred, Vossoughian asked what’s the difference between meeting with men like that and having a relationship with the leader of Saudi Arabia.
Gabbard told her she was “mixing two different things up.”
“I’m just trying to get clarity on it because there seems to be some inconsistencies in your views of it,” Vossoughian countered.
After offering her reasoning on why there’s a difference, Gabbard’s patience began to run short when Vossoughian continued to doggedly pursuit the al-Asaad meeting.
“So, when sitting down with someone like Bashar al-Assad in Syria, do you confront him directly and say why do you order chemical attacks on your own people? Why do you cause the killings of over half a million people in your country?” Vossoughian asked.
Her patience gone, Gabbard said she wanted to “break down” what they were talking about, but Vossoughian pressed, “It’s really a yes or no answer, do you confront him or not?”
“You’re talking about a meeting that took place, what, three years ago?” said Gabbard. “And every time I come back here on MSNBC, you guys talk to me about these issues, it sounds like these are talking points that Kamala Harris and her campaign are feeding you, because she’s refusing to address the questions that were posed to her.”
Vossoughian’s response was to tell the candidate that she was “leading with foreign policy.” She was also say that it was a “very controversial meeting to take” and that is why when she appears on the network, “it’s important for us to talk to you about it.”
Now fully on the offensive, Gabbard let the anchor have it.
“Every single time for three years?” she asked. “This is where the propaganda comes in because I’ve talked about this a lot for the last three years.
“And I’ve talked about how as a soldier I served in a field medical unit in Iraq where every single day I saw the very high human cost of war, every single day the first thing that I did was go through a list, name by name, of every single American casualty and injury that had occurred the day before. So I will not apologize to you or to anyone for doing all that I can — all that I can to prevent our country from continuing to make these perpetual wrong decisions that have taken a toll on the lives of my brothers and sisters in uniform.”
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