Former U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard recently lambasted Utah Senator Mitt Romney for his accusation that she was spreading "treasonous lies" when she spoke of the conflict in Ukraine. Gabbard's rebuttal came during a House hearing on the weaponization of the Department of Justice and Facebook, where she appeared as one of several witnesses to discuss the "corrupt" relationship between Big Tech and the federal government.
The accusations made by Romney were in line with those earlier put forward by Hillary Clinton, who had declared that Gabbard was being groomed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to run for office. The former presidential hopeful said this after Gabbard announced her candidacy in 2020, sparking an uproar which prompted her to defensively confront Clinton's claims.
In response to Romney’s condemnation, Gabbard contended that such comments “put people’s lives at risk” as it encourages “toxic and dangerous rhetoric” when referring to dissenters or opponents as traitors or worse. She also argued that such an attitude fosters mistrust and division among citizens and political leaders alike, ultimately making it difficult for democracy and freedom to thrive.
Gabbard has long been an outspoken advocate for civil liberties and has been a vocal critic of American interventionism abroad. In addition, she has defended both individuals' rights to freely express themselves without fear of being labeled as "traitors," noting that foreign enemies should be met with diplomacy even while defending against their aggression towards America's interests abroad.
Here is the tweet from Romney accusing her of treason:
Tulsi Gabbard is parroting false Russian propaganda. Her treasonous lies may well cost lives.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) March 13, 2022
Gabbard made sure to issue a scathing response to Romney during the hearing:
“More recently, US senator Mitt Romney accused me of treason, a crime that is punishable by death under our laws. I challenged him to back this serious allegation up with evidence. What was this based on? There was no response, no explanation, no evidence, and certainly no apology,” Gabbard said.
“Now, these accusations are often shrugged off as ‘well hey, it’s politics, people say things about each other all the time.’ But that may be easy for some of you to say, but for somebody who wears the uniform, this is serious, and it’s serious not only to me but to my fellow servicemembers and veterans, every one of us making a decision at some point in our lives to raise our right hand, prepared and volunteering to lay our life down for this country,” Gabbard declared.
“What does that mean in reality? It means that before every deployment, we have to make peace in our own hearts with the possibility that we may not come home. It means writing letters to our loved ones, trying to find the words,” she added.
“I still serve in the U.S. Army reserves today. I’m a lieutenant colonel, and 19 years ago when I enlisted in the military, I took an oath to support and defend our Constitution,” she said.
“When powerful and influential people basically threaten and intimidate people into silence as Mitt Romney … [is] doing, they’re hoping to achieve that effect that if anybody dares speak out against the government … [or] criticize whatever the washed, permanent Washington establishment narrative is, then you will be smeared … as a treasonous traitor,” the former representative said.