WATCH

Tulsi Gabbard Claims Syria's Assad Is Not an 'Enemy' of the U.S.

'My point is that whether it is Syria or any of these other countries, we need to look at how their interests are counter to or aligned with ours,' the Democratic congresswoman explained

U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), November 2013.
\ Brian Snyder/ REUTERS

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, is under fire for an appearance she made at a Sunday morning talk show in which she refused to denounce Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"Assad is not the enemy of the United States because Syria does not pose a direct threat to the United States," she said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski then pushed Gabbard to clarify whether she thinks Assad is an “adversary” of the United States.

“We have to look to who poses a threat to the United States,” said Gabbard in one exchange with Scarborough, who argued there is more at stake when assessing U.S. adversaries.

“My point is that whether it is Syria or any of these other countries, we need to look at how their interests are counter to or aligned with ours,” Gabbard explained.

“Are Assad’s interests aligned with ours?” NBC News correspondent Kasie Hunt asked, to which Gabbard replied: “What are Assad’s interests?”

“Assad seems interested in the slaughter, primarily, of his own people. How does that line up?” Hunt pressed further.

Asked whether she thinks Assad is a “good person,” Gabbard laughed and said: “No, I don’t.”