Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) confirmed Wednesday during an interview on CNN that she did meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on a recent "fact finding" trip to Syria. Gabbard said she did not initially plan on meeting with Assad, but took the opportunity when it arose because of her concern for the Syrian people. She claims she talked about "peace" with Assad, and also noted that she learned from the people of Syria that "there are no moderate rebels."
CNN's Jake Tapper pressed Gabbard on whether she had any hesitations meeting with a man "responsible for thousands of deaths and millions of people being displaced during this five-year-long civil war," and specifically whether she had considered that meeting with Assad as a member of Congress may give him "enhanced credibility." "Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria," Gabbard said. "In order for any peace agreement ... there has to be a conversation with him."
Gabbard followed up her remarks on CNN with a statement released Wednesday reiterating her concern for ending the war. Foreign Policy noted earlier this month that Gabbard's trip was "exceedingly rare," while Politico's Jake Sherman pointed out that Gabbard is "277th in seniority in the House," which "has limited influence in foreign policy." House leadership was apparently not aware of Gabbard's trip.
Some reporters have questioned whether Gabbard's meeting may have violated the Logan Act, which prohibits any citizen "without authority of the United States" from "any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof ... in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States."