Former-Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has dropped her defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, saying that defeating the CCP virus pandemic and President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election are more important.
“While they remain certain of the action’s legal merit, they are just as certain that this new COVID and post-COVID world require them to focus their time and attention on other priorities, including defeating Donald Trump in 2020, rather than righting the wrongs here,” Gabbard’s legal team wrote in a court filing on Wednesday (pdf).
The lawsuit was filed in January and alleged the former first lady and secretary of state defamed Gabbard when Clinton suggested last year that the then-presidential candidate is a “Russian asset.” (pdf), The suit claimed that Clinton had “no basis for making her false assertions” and asked the court to award compensatory damages and an injunction that bans the further publication of Clinton’s comments.
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 in October 2019.
“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.”
In the suit, Gabbard accused Clinton as being a “cutthroat politician” who was holding a grudge against Gabbard for supporting Clinton’s then-opponent in the Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
“Tulsi is not a Russian asset. No one—Russia or anyone else—controls her or her presidential campaign. Instead, Tulsi is a loyal American servant, declaring her allegiance to the United States of America both as a soldier and as a member of Congress,” the lawsuit stated.
Her suit also claimed that Clinton made the comments with “obvious malicious intent,” causing harm to Gabbard’s campaign “and American democracy as well.” Gabbard “seeks to hold Clinton, and the political elites who enable her, accountable for distorting the truth in the middle of a critical Presidential election,” according to the filing.
Reacting to the court filing, Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton, told CNN that the lawsuit was a “publicity stunt.”
Gabbard suspended her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and endorsed former rival, Joe Biden, in March.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.