Tulsi Gabbard Sues Hillary Clinton Over ‘Russian Asset’ Remarks
The defamation lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the Manhattan U.S. District Court, alleges Clinton “sought retribution” after Gabbard publicly endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) in the 2016 election instead of Clinton.
“Whether out of personal animus, political enmity, or fear of real change within a political party Clinton and her allies have long dominated,” the lawsuit reads, “Clinton lied about her perceived rival Tulsi Gabbard.”
In a statement Thursday, Gabbard said she was suing Clinton as an effort to check her ability to “intimidate” herself and “other patriotic Americans into silence.”
“If Hillary Clinton and her allies can successfully destroy my reputation — even though I’m a war veteran and a sitting member of Congress — then they can do it to anybody,” Gabbard, a 2020 presidential candidate, said in a statement. “I will not allow this blatant effort to intimidate me and other patriotic Americans into silence go unchallenged.”
Gabbard claims to have suffered “actual damages” of at least $50 million because of Clinton’s comment, but the lawsuit does not name a specific monetary amount sought from the former Democratic nominee.
The lawsuit jabs at Clinton for losing in 2016, noting that Gabbard is running for president this year.
“Tulsi Gabbard is running for President of the United States, a position Clinton has long coveted, but has not been able to attain,” the lawsuit says.
The rivalry between the two women was enflamed after Clinton mentioned that President Donald Trump and the GOP are “grooming” a candidate for a third-party bid during an interview on a podcast hosted by former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe.
“I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and they’re grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton told Plouffe.
She continued, “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far and that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up because she’s also a Russian asset.”
While Clinton did not mention Gabbard by name, a spokesperson confirmed the “Russian asset” comment referred to the Hawaii congresswoman.
Gabbard initially responded on Twitter, calling Clinton “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party.”
She also accused Clinton of operating “a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation.”
“We wondered who was behind it and why,” she tweeted. “Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.”
Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a …
— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) October 18, 2019
Clinton’s claim that Stein’s campaign was supported by Russians is not entirely unsubstantiated.
A report prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee found that the Russian government-linked Internet Research Agency used social media platforms to support Stein as part of “comprehensive anti-Hillary Clinton operations.”
Trump stepped in to defend Gabbard after Clinton’s initial attack.
“She’s not a Russian agent,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting. “These people are sick. There’s something wrong with them. [Hillary Clinton] is accusing everyone of being a Russian agent.”