Tulsi Gabbard faced criticism for being the only Democrat not to vote in favour of Mr Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives earlier this month – instead recording herself as “present”.
Now in a campaign video, Ms Gabbard has claimed that – far from rebuking the president – that same vote will spur him on to victory in 2020.
“The house impeachment of the president has greatly increased the likelihood that Donald Trump will remain the president for the next five years.”
She said it was unlikely the Republican-controlled Senate would remove the president from his post.
Any vote to the remove the president would require a two-thirds “super majority” of senators to support the measure – ensuring the move is impossible unless 20 Republicans and two independents join the Democrats in the vote.
She added: “Now first we all know that Trump is not going to be found guilty and removed from office by the US Senate. It’s not going to happen.
“Second the impeachment, in my view, will actually increase his support among voters, and it’s going to make him harder to defeat.
Ms Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, has swung against the views of the Democratic pack on a number of issues – with her opposition to impeachment marking the first expression of such views from a candidate.
She was previously in favour of impeachment following the release of the transcript of Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky – however remained cautious over the potential divisions caused by the process.
She added that she expected the result to bolster support for Republicans down the ticket – allowing the party the kind of control afforded to the president’s administration following the 2016 election, when he held sway over both the House and the Senate..
Ms Gabbard said: “Furthermore the House impeachment has increased the likelihood that Republicans will take over the House of Representatives, so I’m really concerned that because of this House impeachment, we will end up not only with Donald Trump as president from 2020 to 2024 – we’ll actually end up with a Republican controlled Senate and a Republican controlled House.
“This is going to be a disaster for our country.”