For much of the last century, there has been an unofficial tradition of presidents including people from the opposition party in their cabinet. However, it was looking unlikely that President-elect Donald Trump would preserve that symbol of bipartisanship. That is, until Monday, when Trump met with Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard at Trump Tower.
The meeting with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence stoked rumors that Gabbard could be up for a cabinet post. In fact, a senior Trump transition member conveyed as much to ABC News, saying Gabbard was "under serious consideration" for several positions in the Trump cabinet or United Nations ambassador.
Many were surprised at the meeting with Gabbard. After all, back in October, Trump told Reuters that he would not consider putting Democrats in his cabinet. But meetings with Gabbard and controversial former Washington D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee have suggested that Trump might be open to diversifying his cabinet... somewhat, anyway.
Both Gabbard and Rhee are far from Democratic Party establishment; in February, Gabbard resigned her post as vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee in order to endorse Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the party's primary.
Meanwhile, Rhee famously took on the Washington D.C. teachers unions — long-time supporters of Democratic politicians — and resigned after her boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty, lost his reelection bid in 2010. Still, given the deep division of the election, even outsider Democrats might find it uncomfortable in Trump's White House.
Gabbard has already shown that she's no stranger to not going with the pack, however. Representing the north and west portions of Oahu and the entirety of the rest of the Hawaiian Islands (i.e., everything outside of Honolulu), Gabbard has taken several opportunities to buck the party line: she refused to co-sponsor 11 different pieces of gun control legislation (while supporting Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy's gun control filibuster earlier this year); she voted for the GOP bill requiring FBI background checks for all Syrian and Iraqi refugees; and she did not sign a letter from Democrats condemning Steve Bannon's appointment to Trump's advisory team.
The feeling may be mutual — Bannon reportedly admires Gabbard and her positions on guns, refugees, and religious extremists.
The topic of the meeting was reportedly foreign policy, and included a discussion of Syria, including the congresswoman advocating against a "no-fly zone." Gabbard completed two tours of duty in the Middle East before becoming a U.S. Congresswoman.
In a statement from Gabbard following the meeting, she said she was open to working with the president-elect: "Where I disagree with President-elect Trump on issues, I will not hesitate to express that disagreement. However, I believe we can disagree, even strongly, but still come together on issues that matter to the American people and affect their daily lives."