Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) filed a lawsuit against former Secretary of State and 2016 contender Hillary Clinton, claiming the former first lady and secretary of state defamed her by suggesting last year that shes is a “Russian asset.”
“Clinton deliberately and maliciously made false statements in an attempt to derail Rep. Gabbards campaign, by alleging that Gabbard is a Russian asset,” Gabbards campaign said in a news release on Wednesday.
Clintons office has not responded to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit noted that in October, Clinton publicly said that “somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary … [is a] favorite of the Russians… Yeah, shes a Russian asset.” The comment was widely interpreted as Clinton referring to Gabbard.
The lawsuit (pdf), which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, is seeking compensatory damages and an injunction that bans the further publication of Clintons comments.
“Tulsi Gabbard is running for President of the United States, a position Clinton has long coveted, but has not been able to attain,” the suit reads. “In October 2019—whether out of personal animus, political enmity, or fear of real change within a political party Clinton and her allies have long dominated—Clinton lied about her perceived rival Tulsi Gabbard.”
Clinton made the comments during a podcast appearance on “Campaign HQ” with David Plouffe. She said Republicans were “grooming” a Democratic presidential candidate for a third-party bid and also said the candidate is a “favorite of the Russians.” She didnt specifically identify Gabbard.
“Theyre also going to do third party. Im not making any predictions, but I think theyve got their eye on somebody whos currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said at the time. “Shes the favorite of the Russians, they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far, and thats assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not, because shes also a Russian asset. Yeah, shes a Russian asset, I mean totally. They know they cant win without a third-party candidate,” Clinton said.
When asked if Clinton was referring to Gabbard, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill later told CNN: “If the nesting doll fits…” A nesting doll is a Russian toy thats also called stacking dolls, Matryoshka dolls, Russian Tea dolls, or Babushka dolls.
“This is not some outlandish claim. This is reality. If the Russian propaganda machine, both their state media and their bot and troll operations, is backing a candidate aligned with their interests, that is just a reality, it is not speculation,” he said of Clintons statements.
But on Twitter, he attempted to clarify Clintons remarks: “Folks, listen to the podcast. She doesnt say the Russians are grooming anyone. It was a question about Republicans.”
Folks, listen to the podcast. She doesnt say the Russians are grooming anyone. It was a question about Republicans.