Tulsi Gabbard May Be in More Hot Water After Meeting With Syria's Assad

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, (D., Hawaii) / AP
February 8, 2017

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) may be in more trouble after he secret trip last month to Syria, where she met with President Bashar al-Assad.

Gabbard has not complied with House ethics rules to file necessary forms disclosing who paid for her trip as well as who else she may have met with in the war-torn country, the Daily Beast reported Tuesday.

In papers Gabbard has filed with the House Ethics Committee, she said the trip was sponsored by AACCESS-Ohio, a small organization with ties to the Assad regime that has been in and out of existence since 1991. The filings must also show, however, who gave the money to AACCESS-Ohio for the trip, if another group or individual did. AACCESS-Ohio's sources of funding are unknown, according to the Daily Beast.

Gabbard has said that she would reimburse AACCESS-Ohio for the trip out of her own pocket, but the plan must still be filed in full. Additionally, her schedule for the trip was also supposed to be filed in December and made public by Monday. There was no schedule included in the filing.

Two men who traveled with Gabbard in Syria, Elie and Bassam Khawam, have possible ties to AACCESS-Ohio–the Guardian previously reported that Bassam Khawam was the group's executive director. Both men are officials in the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, an anti-Semitic party that sides with the Assad regime in the ongoing Syrian conflict, according to the Daily Beast.

Gabbard has faced significant criticism since her trip and announcement that she met with the dictator, including from Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.), who tweeted about Gabbard's travels.

The Assad regime is recognized internationally for having used chemical weapons on Syrian civilians and working with Russian forces in targeting and bombing civilian infrastructure, including hospitals. Amnesty International released a report on Tuesday that said the Assad regime is responsible for executing up to 13,000 individuals with mass hangings and torturing even more between 2011 and 2015.

Gabbard has called for working with the Assad regime to end the Syrian conflict peacefully.