Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Donald Trump on Monday discussed the conflict in Syria and the need to focus resources on defeating terrorist organizations like the Islamic State in the President-elect’s first meeting with a Democratic lawmaker, according to a statement released by Gabbard’s team.
“President-elect Trump asked me to meet with him,” Gabbard said, according to the 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.”
She cited the cost of “hundreds of thousands of lives” and the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis as reasons to seek “common ground” and work across party lines on relevant policy.
“While the rules of political expediency would say I should have refused to meet with President-elect Trump, I never have and never will play politics with American and Syrian lives,” the statement reads. “I believe we can disagree, even strongly, but still come together on issues that matter to the American people and affect their daily lives.”
Gabbard characterized her conversation with the President-elect as “frank and positive.”
“For years, the issue of ending interventionist, regime change warfare has been one of my top priorities,” she said in the statement. “I will never allow partisanship to undermine our national security when the lives of countless people lay in the balance.”
According to a report by The Hill, Trump’s incoming chief strategist Steve Bannon is a “big fan” of Gabbard, herself a military veteran whose stance on guns and Islamic extremism has set her at odds with other Democrats.