Army Vet Tulsi Gabbard Says She's Running For President In 2020

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii said in remarks aired by CNN on Friday that she will run for president in 2020, becoming the latest member of her party to pursue a challenge to Republican President Donald Trump.


"I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week," Gabbard, a liberal 37-year-old Iraq War veteran as well as the first Hindu and first Samoan-American elected to the U.S. Congress, told CNN.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Dec. 31 announced she had formed an exploratory committee for a White House run in what is expected to be a crowded Democratic primary field before the November 2020 presidential election.

Gabbard said "the issue of war and peace" would be the main focus of her campaign.

Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Democratic presidential field could eventually include Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden. Julian Castro, former President Barack Obama's housing secretary, also formed an exploratory committee in December.

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In the race to pick a candidate to run against Trump, Democrats will grapple with the tension between the party's establishment and liberal wings that flared during the 2016 state-by-state nominating contests between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who ran under the Democratic banner.

Gabbard made headlines in 2016 by quitting a leadership post at the Democratic National Committee over the party's decision to limit the number of debates between Clinton and Sanders, with analysts believing fewer debates benefited Clinton. Clinton ultimately won the Democratic nomination but lost to Trump.

The congresswoman then endorsed Sanders for president, becoming one of the few members of Congress to do so. Gabbard remains popular with some liberals but will have serious competition with other candidates on the left flank of the party.

Gabbard has also drawn criticism for secretly meeting with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, whose removal from power she opposes, during a 2017 trip to the war-ravaged country.

Iowa holds the first presidential nominating contest in 13 months. Warren informally kicked off the 2020 Democratic presidential nominating fight on visit last weekend to Iowa, condemning the corrupting influence of money on politics and lamenting lost economic opportunities for working families.

(Reporting by James Oliphant and Makini Brice; Editing by Eric Beech and Will Dunham)

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(Photo: CNN/screenshot)

NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — A Navy SEAL sniper on Wednesday contradicted earlier testimony of fellow SEALs who claimed he had fired warning shots to scare away civilian non-combatants before Chief Eddie Gallagher shot them during their 2017 deployment to Mosul, and said he would not want to deploy again with one of the prosecution's star witnesses.

Special Operator 1st Class Joshua Graffam originally invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege before Navy Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh gave him immunity in order to compel his testimony.

Graffam testified that Gallagher was essentially justified in the shooting of a man he is accused of unlawfully targeting, stating that "based off everything i had seen so far ... in my opinion, they were two shitheads moving from one side of the road to the other."

Spotting for Gallagher in the tower that day, Graffam said, he called out the target to him and he fired. He said the man was hit in the upper torso and ran away.

Graffam, who joined the Navy in 2010 and has been assigned to SEAL Team 7's Alpha Platoon since September 2015, deployed alongside Gallagher to Mosul in 2017, occasionally acting as a spotter for Gallagher when the SEALs were tasked with providing sniper support for Iraqi forces from two towers east of the Tigris River.

Another SEAL, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Dalton Tolbert, had previously testified under direct examination by prosecutors that, while stationed in the south tower of a bombed-out building in June 2017, he had observed Gallagher shoot and kill an elderly civilian.

"He ran north to south across the road," Tolbert testified on Friday. "That's when I saw the red mark on his back and I saw him fall for the first time. Blood started to pool and I knew it was a square hit in the back." Over the radio, he said he heard Gallagher tell the other snipers, "you guys missed him but I got him."

Former SO1 Dylan Dille, who was also in the south tower that day, testified last week that he watched an old man die from a sniper shot on Father's Day. He said the date stuck out in his mind because he thought the man was probably a father.

Later that day, after the mission, Graffam said he spoke with Dille about the shooting and they disagreed about the circumstances. Dille, he said, believed the man was a noncombatant.

"I, on the other hand, was confident that the right shot was taken," Graffam said, although he said later under cross-examination that the man was unarmed. Dille previously testified that the SEALs were authorized to shoot unarmed personnel if they first received signals intelligence or other targeting information.

Photo: Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

Graffam described the man as a male between 40 and 50 years old wearing black clothing, giving him the impression of an ISIS fighter who was moving in a "tactical" manner. He testified that he did not see anything like Dille had described.

Graffam further testified that he didn't see Gallagher take any shots that he shouldn't have on that day or any other.

Although Graffam said he did not hear of allegations that Gallagher had stabbed a wounded ISIS fighter on deployment, he testified that he started to hear rumblings in early 2018. Chief Craig Miller, he said, asked him at one point whether he would "cooperate" with others in reporting him.

When asked whether he would like to serve with Miller again in a SEAL platoon, Graffam said, "I don't feel as confident about it." A member of the jury later asked him why he'd feel uncomfortable deploying with Miller and he responded, "I just wouldn't."

Graffam said he would serve with Gallagher again if given the chance.

Under cross examination by prosecutors, Graffam said he couldn't say whether there were warning shots fired that day, though Dille and Tolbert both said happened. "There were multiple shots throughout the day," Graffam said.

Prosecutors also asked him about his previous statements to NCIS, in which Graffam said of Miller that "he has good character" and was "a good guy." Graffam confirmed he said just that.

Defense attorney Tim Parlatore, however, said those statements were back in January and "a lot had happened since then." Parlatore said Graffam had also said at the time that Gallagher was a good leader.

"That part remains unchanged, correct?" Parlatore asked.

"Yes," Graffam said.

The defense is expected to call more witnesses in the case, which continues on Thursday.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexi Myrick)

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