Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard unveiled a defamation lawsuit on Wednesday against Hillary Clinton as a response to Clinton’s October remarks calling Gabbard a “Russian asset.”
Gabbard’s presidential campaign website revealed the legal complaint, which claims Clinton’s remarks have caused in excess of $50 million in damages to Gabbard. Clinton did not name Gabbard specifically in her controversial comments, but said “somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary … [is a] favorite of the Russians.”
Clinton made her original remarks on a podcast hosted by President Barack Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe and though she did not name Gabbard specifically, news outlets soon began to speculate Clinton was referring to Gabbard.
In subsequent interviews, when asked if her “Russian asset” remarks did refer to Gabbard, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill replied, “If the nesting doll fits.”
In response to Clinton’s remarks, Gabbard called Clinton a “warmonger” and suggested Clinton’s comments revealed herself to be the originator of past efforts to harm Gabbard’s reputation.
… concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and …
— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) October 18, 2019
Merrill told the New York Daily News that Gabbard’s response to Clinton’s remarks only supports Clinton’s initial point.
“Divisive language filled with vitriol and conspiracy theories? Can’t imagine a better proof point than this that Gabbard is ‘a third party spoiler’ adored by the Russians,” Merrill said.
Gabbard is a sitting U.S. congresswoman and a Major in the U.S. Army National Guard, as well as a combat veteran of the war in Iraq.
Clinton’s remarks prompted other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to speak in Gabbard’s defense. Republican President Donald Trump, who has also been accused of having colluded with the Russian government in 2016 against Clinton, also spoke in Gabbard’s defense.
Despite the pushback against Clinton’s remarks, Gabbard’s complaint argues the comments still continued to damage her and her 2020 presidential campaign.
“Millions of Americans heard (or read about) a well-known authority figure, Clinton, stating as fact that Tulsi
was a ‘Russian asset’ and ‘the favorite of the Russians,'” Gabbard’s complaint alleges. “Scientifically conducted opinion surveys have shown that Clinton’s false, malicious statements about Tulsi were accepted as true by millions of Americans, including large numbers of voters in battleground Presidential primary states.”
Gabbard suggested Clinton’s comments stem from a perceived slight against her by Gabbard when she endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, instead of Clinton.