Attorneys for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) have demanded a retraction of Hillary Clinton’s allegations that Gabbard is a Russian asset, and accused the former first lady of defamation.
“Your statement is defamatory, and we demand that you retract it immediately,” wrote a lawyer for Gabbard, who is a 2020 presidential candidate, reported The Hill.
The lawyer, who was not named, demanded that Clinton “immediately” verbally retract the comments. The lawyer also wanted the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate to post a retraction to her Twitter account.
Clinton hasn’t responded to the lawyer’s demands.
In October, Clinton made the comment about Gabbard during a podcast.
“She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her, so far,” Clinton said. She didn’t refer to Gabbard by name but strongly suggested it.
“I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton also stated in October, CNN reported. She also suggested that Gabbard might run as a third-party candidate, but a Clinton spokesperson later said it wasn’t in reference to her, according to The Hill’s report.
“It appears you may now be claiming that this statement is about Republicans (not Russians) grooming Gabbard,” Gabbard’s lawyer said in the letter.”But this makes no sense in light of what you actually said. After you made the statement linking Congresswoman Gabbard to the Russians, you (through your spokesman) doubled down on it with the Russian nesting dolls remark.”
Gabbard has said she isn’t interested in running on a third-party platform.
In an interview with Fox News in late October, Gabbard said such claims are “baseless” and are “offensive” because she served in the military.
“I will never be able to undo what they have done in trying to cast suspicion amongst the American people about where my loyalties actually lie,” Gabbard said.
Her spat with Clinton is bigger than just her, she said.
The public tussle “is really about our freedom. Our freedom of speech and being able to make sure that we, as the American people can stand up. We can be critical of our leaders. We can disagree, and the reason why we’re seeing this coming from Hillary Clinton and her proxies and kind of this foreign policy establishment that represents her legacy is they know they cannot control me. And that worries them very much,” Gabbard said in the interview.
The congresswoman had faced criticism in the past due to her foreign policy views and after she met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Initially I hadn’t planned on meeting him,” Gabbard said in 2017. “When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so, because I felt it’s important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we’ve got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace. And that’s exactly what we talked about.”
Gabbard, meanwhile, has qualified for the next Democratic debate on Nov. 20 because she got 3 percent support in a recent Quinnipiac University poll that surveyed Iowa voters.
Nine other Democratic candidates have qualified, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), billionaire Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.