Democratic Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is suing Hillary Clinton for defamation over the former Secretary of State’s remarks on a podcast characterizing the Democratic presidential candidate as “a favorite of the Russians” last year.
Gabbard filed the defamation lawsuit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, New York. Gabbard’s lawyers allege that Clinton’s comments have “smeared” Gabbard’s “political and personal reputation.” Gabbard claims that Clinton made her remarks as “retribution” for Gabbard endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders over Clinton in 2016, USA TODAY reports.
The lawsuit says it aims to hold Clinton and other “political elites” accountable for “distorting the truth in the middle of a critical Presidential election.”
“Clinton has not gotten over her loss in that election and still dwells on what happened,” the lawsuit says, adding that “Clinton blames many persons for her loss,” including Sanders. “But Clinton reserves a special hatred and animosity for Tulsi—who never endorsed Clinton, did not campaign for her, and to top it off, gave the nomination speech for Senator Sanders at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.”
“If Hillary Clinton and her allies can successfully destroy my reputation — even though I’m a war veteran and a sitting member of Congress — then they can do it to anybody,” Gabbard, said in a statement released this morning. “I will not allow this blatant effort to intimidate me and other patriotic Americans into silence go unchallenged.”
— Tulsi Gabbard ? (@TulsiGabbard) January 23, 2020
Asked to comment on the lawsuit, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill told USA TODAY, “That’s ridiculous.”
The lawsuit claims, Gabbard has “suffered significant actual damages, personally and professionally, that are estimated to exceed $50 million—and continue to this day,” because of Hillary Clinton’s smear.
Clinton made her remarks during a podcast appearance on “Campaign HQ” in October with David Plouffe, a Democratic strategist. Clinton suggested that the GOP was “grooming” a Democratic presidential candidate to run as a third-party candidate. Although she did not identify whom she was referring to, the comment was seemingly directed to the Hawaii Democrat.
“She’s the favorite of the Russians, they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far, and that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not, because she’s also a Russian asset,” Clinton said. “Yeah, she’s a Russian asset, I mean totally. They know they can’t win without a third party candidate.”
Following Clinton’s comments, Gabbard wrote in a tweet: “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’s 2020 presidential campaign has struggled to garner significant support over the past several months, and she was left out of the last two Democratic primary debates. She has said she will not run for president as a third-party candidate.