2020 Democrat Candidates Defend Gabbard Over ‘Russian Asset’ Accusations

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
October 19, 2019Updated: October 21, 2019

Several 2020 Democratic candidates have defended Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) after Hillary Clinton implied in an interview this week that Gabbard, who is running for president, is a favorite of the Russians.

Candidates Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang have taken to Twitter to show their support for the Hawaii representative, saying that she deserves more respect.

“Tulsi Gabbard deserves much more respect and thanks than this. She literally just got back from serving our country abroad,” Yang wrote.

Williamson said, “The Democratic establishment has got to stop smearing women it finds inconvenient! The character assassination of women who don’t toe the party line will backfire. Stay strong @TulsiGabbard. You deserve respect and you have mine.”

In recent days, Gabbard has gained attention after Clinton implied that Republicans have “got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” without explicitly identifying the Congress member, during a podcast appearance on Campaign HQ hosted by David Plouffe.

“She is a favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far. That’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she is also a Russian asset,” Clinton said, without referring to Gabbard by name.

“They know they can’t win without a third-party candidate, and so I do not know who it’s going to be, but I can guarantee you, they will have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most need it.”

Gabbard pushed back at the accusation while calling Clinton a “queen of warmongers” in a Twitter post on Oct. 18.

“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,” Gabbard wrote.

“From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a 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 powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.

“It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.”

During an appearance Oct. 18 on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, Gabbard said she believes Clinton is targeting her because “ultimately [Clinton] knows that she can’t control me” if the lawmaker is elected president.

“The reason why she’s doing this is ultimately she knows that she can’t control me. That I stand against everything that she represents. And that, if I’m elected president, if I’m the Democratic nominee and elected president, that she won’t be able to control me, she won’t be able to manipulate me. She won’t be able to continue to work from behind the curtain to continue these regime change wars that have been so costly,” Gabbard told Carlson.

That comes after The New York Times and CNN accused Gabbard of being a Russian asset and an Assad apologist. Gabbard hit back at the media outlets during the Democratic debate on Oct. 15, saying that they were smearing veterans like herself “for calling for an end to this regime change war [in Syria].”

On Oct. 12, The New York Times published a story that said the 2020 candidate’s threat to boycott the debate caused some Democrats to wonder what “she is up to in the race,” adding that “others worry about supportive signs from online bot activity and the Russian news media.”

Meanwhile, CNN analyst Bakari Sellers accused Gabbard of being “a puppet for the Russian government” during a CNN panel discussion before the Oct. 15 debate.

“That’s not just an allegation. I firmly believe that Tulsi Gabbard stands on that stage and is the antithesis to what the other 11 individuals stand for. Especially when it comes to issues such as foreign policy,” Sellers said.

“There is no question that Tulsi Gabbard, of all the 12, is a puppet for the Russian government.”

Gabbard previously said she might not join the fourth Democratic presidential debate because she believes the Democratic National Committee and corporate media are rigging the election against voters in early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.

“They are attempting to replace the roles of voters in the early states, using polling and other arbitrary methods which are not transparent or democratic, and holding so-called debates which are not debates at all but rather commercialized reality television meant to entertain, not inform or enlighten,” Gabbard said in a statement on Oct. 10.

“In short, the DNC and corporate media are trying to hijack the entire election process.”