‘This Cannot Go Unchecked’: Tulsi Gabbard Hits Mitt Romney, Keith Olbermann With Cease And Desist Letters Over ‘Defamatory’ Comments
Democratic presidential hopeful US Representative for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district Tulsi Gabbard gestures as she speaks during the first Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, June 26, 2019.
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is taking action against two of her critics who have accused her of “treasonous” activities and other potentially defamatory comments regarding Russia and the war in Ukraine, demanding that the offending parties preserve evidence and stop making such claims or face potential litigation.

Gabbard, a U.S. war veteran and former presidential Democratic primary candidate, announced on Wednesday afternoon that she and her attorney, Harmeet K. Dhillon, have sent Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and liberal pundit Keith Olbermann cease and desist letters due to tweets posted by the two individuals that potentially damage her reputation with what she says are baseless claims.

“When powerful, influential people make baseless accusations of treason, a crime punishable by death, in order to intimidate, silence and censor those who speak the truth, it has a chilling effect on our democracy,” Gabbard tweeted. “This cannot go unchecked.”

On March 13, Romney tweeted: “Tulsi Gabbard is parroting false Russian propaganda. Her treasonous lies may well cost lives.”

In the letter sent by Dhillon, Romney was advised, “Your accusation that Representative Gabbard, a combat veteran and current military officer, has engaged in ‘treasonous’ activity is completely false, a fact of which you were well aware when you made your claim. And as explained below, your accusation that Representative Gabbard lied also has no basis in fact.”

“Your allegation that Representative Gabbard spoke ‘treasonous lies’ is clear-cut defamation,” Dhillon added. Romney’s tweet appears to be in response to a video Gabbard released that discussed U.S.-funded biological laboratories in Ukraine.

To that extent, Dhillon added that his accusation claiming Gabbard told lies is “false.”

“In her video, Representative Gabbard made the factual claim that there were American-funded biological laboratories in Ukraine,” Dhillon said. “The existence of biological laboratories in Ukraine is beyond dispute,” she added before providing evidence for such a claim.

Dhillon’s letter to Olbermann noted that on March 14, “the Twitter account @LibWatchDog posted a video in which hosts of the View made outlandish statements suggesting that the Department of Justice should investigate Representative Gabbard, along with Fox News Host Tucker Carlson.”

Olbermann responded to that tweet, saying “They are Russian Assets and there is a war. There’s a case for detaining them militarily. Trials are a sign of good faith and patience on the part of democracy.”

Dhillon informed the former MSNBC host that he “acted with actual malice when you defamed Representative Gabbard.”

“Representative Gabbard’s loyalty to the United States is beyond reproach, and you either knew your description of her as a ‘Russian Asset’ was false when you made it, or you acted in reckless disregard as to her allegiance to the United States,” she added.

Dhillon also told Olbermann that while Gabbard “believes that free speech is a cornerstone of American democracy, your accusation that she is a ‘Russian Asset’ is far outside of the bounds of free speech and civility. It is defamation.”

According to Gabbard’s legal representative, the former congresswoman would prefer to settle this dispute out of court. Both Olbermann and Romney have until April 27 to respond to the cease and desist letters. Dhillon also noted that Gabbard “will likely be forced to pursue litigation concerning this matter,” and that the two should preserve all evidence as it relates to the tweets in question as the law requires.

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