With days to go until the Iowa caucus and the four frontrunners of the Democratic primary polling within an implausibly close range, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has reinserted herself into the fracas by deploying the time-honored political strategy of “just suing Hillary Clinton for defamation and seeing what happens.”
On Wednesday, Gabbard — who is still running for president, despite polling at around 1% — filed suit against the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State on the grounds that Clinton falsely characterized her as a “Russian asset” during an October 2019 podcast appearance.
In a statement given to The Hill, Gabbard’s lawyer, Brian Dunne, said that while his client’s political campaign “continues to gain momentum… [Tulsi] has seen her political and personal reputation smeared and her candidacy intentionally damaged by Clinton’s malicious and demonstrably false remarks.”
During her appearance on an episode of Campaign HQ With David Plouffe, Clinton claimed that the Russians were “grooming” a third-party candidate, suggesting that they had "their eye on somebody who's currently in the Democratic primary," who she insinuated was Gabbard.
"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 added. “Yeah, she's a Russian asset, I mean totally. They know they can't win without a third-party candidate.”
In the lawsuit, lawyers for Gabbard claim that Clinton is a “cutthroat politician” who “sought retribution” for Gabbard endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016, when he was Clinton’s primary opponent.
“Clinton’s false assertions were made in a deliberate attempt to derail Tulsi’s presidential campaign,” the lawsuit says. “Tulsi brings this lawsuit to ensure that the truth prevails and to ensure this country’s political elites are held accountable for intentionally trying to distort the truth in the midst of a critical Presidential election.”
The lawsuit comes on the heels of an explosive interview Clinton gave to The Hollywood Reporter in which she announced a four-part Hulu docuseries called Hillary. The series will focus on the 2016 presidential campaign, but Clinton doubled down on the assertion she makes in the film that “nobody likes” Vermont senator and 2020 presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders.
While Gabbard seems determined to throw the book at Clinton for her perceived sleights, Sanders brushed off Clinton’s comments about him on Tuesday with little fanfare, simply offering, “On a good day, my wife likes me.”