Tulsi Gabbard is suing Hillary Clinton for $50 million for defamation after Clinton indicated she thinks the Hawaii congresswoman is a Russian plant in the 2020 presidential race.
‘Rep. Gabbard must defend her good name,’ her lawyer said in a statement on Wednesday.
The complaint argues Gabbard’s loyalty because of her military service in the Army National Guard, charges Clinton with hurting Gabbard’s presidential bid, and outlines Gabbard’s belief Clinton made the comments in retaliation for Gabbard endorsing Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary.
‘In February 2016, Tulsi believed the best Democratic presidential candidate for our country was Senator Bernie Sanders. She also knew that Clinton had a stranglehold over the Democratic party and that crossing Clinton (who considered herself the “inevitable nominee”) could mean the end of her own political career. Yet Tulsi put the country before herself, and she publicly endorsed Senator Sanders, becoming the most prominent politician to do so at the time,’ the complaint reads.
‘Clinton – a cutthroat politician by any account – has never forgotten this perceived slight. And in October 2019, she sought retribution by lying, publicly and loudly, about Tulsi Gabbard,’ it adds.
Gabbard is suing the former secretary of state for monetary damage and for legal fees.
The suit says the amount of money will be determined at trial but notes Gabbard has lost more than $50 million.
‘The Defamatory Statements have caused Tulsi to lose potential donors and potential voters who heard the Defamatory Statements. Tulsi has suffered significant actual damages, personally and professionally, that are estimated to exceed $50 million,’ the complaint reads.
Tulsi Gabbard is suing Hillary Clinton for defamation
Gabbard’s complaint accuses Hillary Clinton of retaliating against Gabbard endorsing Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary
The complaint also accuses Clinton for having no basis for making her charge against Gabbard, a Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii.
‘Clinton had no basis for making her false assertions about Tulsi – and indeed, there is no factual basis for Clinton’s conspiracy theory. Clinton’s peddling of this theory has harmed Tulsi, has harmed American voters, and has harmed American democracy. 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 complaint reads.
Gabbard’s presidential campaign has struggled to gain traction and she did not meet the qualifications for the last two presidential primary debates.
Clinton made her accusation against Gabbard in an October 2019 interview.
Clinton, who lost the 2016 election in part because of Russian interference to help Donald Trump, claimed Moscow was at it again.
‘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 said in an interview. ‘She’s the favorite of the Russians.’
Clinton did not mention Gabbard by name in the interview with former Obama adviser David Plouffe for his podcast but her accusation appeared directed at the congresswoman from Hawaii, who’s been accused in the past of being cozy with Moscow.
‘They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far,’ Clinton added.
Her lawyer called Gabbard, who is a Major in the Army and served in Iraq, a ‘loyal American civil servant.’
‘Tulsi Gabbard is a loyal American civil servant who has also dedicated her life to protecting the safety of all Americans. Rep. Gabbard’s presidential campaign continues to gain momentum but she has seen her political and personal reputation smeared and her candidacy intentionally damaged by Clinton’s malicious and demonstrably false remarks,’ Brian Dunne, counsel to Gabbard and partner at Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP, said in a statement.
‘One would expect someone of Mrs. Clinton’s political background to act with a greater level of maturity and dignity, but her personal hostility toward Rep. Gabbard apparently clouded Mrs. Clinton’s reason and blinded her to U.S. defamation laws. She resorted to a damaging whisper campaign founded on lies and when presented with the opportunity to retract her damaging remarks, she refused. Rep. Gabbard must defend her good name and hold Mrs. Clinton responsible. This lawsuit intends to do just that,’ he added.
Tulsi Gabbard in Syria in January 2017
Gabbard is suing Clinton for monetary damages
Clinton’s spokesman Nick Merrill doubled down on her comments at the time.
‘If the nesting doll fits,’ he told reporters when asked if the former secretary of state meant Gabbard in her interview.
Gabbard has faced questions about her relationship and meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Clinton was not the first person to raise questions about Gabbard’s ties to Russia.
In the Democratic primary debate in Ohio preceding Clinton’s interview, Gabbard defended herself from claims she is a ‘Russian asset,’ calling them ‘completely despicable.’
She also defended herJanuary 2017 trip to Syria where she met with its dictator Bashar al-Assad, who is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
‘Just two days ago the New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears,’ she said during the debate.
‘This morning a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia.’
‘Completely despicable,’ she said of the comments and then promised: ‘As president I will end these regime change wars.’
In October 2019, The New York Times’ published an article entitled ‘What, Exactly, Is Tulsi Gabbard Up To?’ and noted her candidacy is supported by alt-right internet stars, white nationalists and Russians.
On Tuesday morning, the morning of the debate, CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers had said: ‘There is no question, there is no question that Tulsi Gabbard, of all the 12, is a puppet for the Russian government.’
Gabbard earns frequently mentions in Russian propaganda and media. She is a regular subject on RT, the news agency backed by the Kremlin.
Some Democrats have feared Gabbard could make an independent third-party presidential bid, which would draw votes away from the Democratic nominee and result in Donald Trump’s re-election.
Trump has defended Gabbard from the charge, saying she is not a Russian agent.
In her interview with Plouffe, Clinton also accused Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate in both the 2012 and 2016 elections, of being a ‘Russian asset.’
‘That’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not, because she’s also a Russian asset,’ Clinton said. ‘Yes, she’s a Russian asset, I mean, totally. They know they can’t win without a third-party candidate.’
Congressional reports on the 2016 election found that Stein was part of Russia’s meddling effort into that year’s presidential contest.
NBC News reported Russian operatives boosted Stein’s candidacy by targeting voters from key Democratic demographics – a move that would have hurt Clinton in the election.
Stein earned nearly 1.5 million votes in the 2016 election and came in fourth.
Trump has defended both women against Clinton.
‘And then what happened to Jill Stein of the Green Party, gets called a Russian agent by Crooked Hillary. And then Tulsi Gabbard – I don’t know either of them, but I know they’re not Russian agents. Gets called a Russian agent. This is what these people do. They demean and the press play in because the press is largely their partner,’ the president said Wednesday at a press conference in Davos, Switzerland, where he’s attending the World Economic Forum.