Attorneys for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) penned a letter to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday demanding that she retract her previous remarks suggesting that the Democratic presidential candidate is a “Russian asset” who is being “groom[ed]” to run as a third-party candidate.
“Your statement is defamatory, and we demand that you retract it immediately,” Gabbard’s lawyer wrote, calling for Clinton to both verbally retract the comments and post her retraction to social media.
“In making the statement, you knew it was false. Congresswoman Gabbard is not a Russian asset and is not being groomed by Russia,” the letter continued. “Besides your statement, no law enforcement or intelligence agencies have claimed, much less presented any evidence, that Congresswoman Gabbard is a Russian asset. This fabricated story is so facially improbable that it is actionable as defamation.”
The letter comes less than a month after the twice-failed Democratic presidential candidate sat down with President Barack Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe, during an appearance on his podcast “Campaign HQ.”
“I think they have got their eye on someone who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She is the favorite of the Russians,” Clinton said at the time. “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’s also a Russian asset. Yeah, she’s a Russian asset — I mean, totally,” Clinton added. “They know they can’t win without a third-party candidate. So I don’t know who it’s going to be, but I will guarantee you they will have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most needed.”
While the former first lady refrained from naming the “Democratic primary” candidate to whom she was initially referring, Clinton’s spokesman Nick Merrill later confirmed that it was, in fact, Gabbard.
“If the nesting doll fits,” Merrill replied when asked directly about the congresswoman.
Clinton received widespread blowback for promulgating a conspiracy theory without any evidence to back up her contention. Gabbard subsequently fired back, calling Clinton “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.”
Gabbard, who is the first female combat veteran in America to launch a bid for the presidency, has been outspoken about the importance of the time that she has spent serving the United States as both a soldier and as a public servant.
In August, the Hawaii congresswoman took a two-week leave of absence from her presidential campaign in order to report for active duty with the Hawaiian Army National Guard and participate in a joint training exercise mission in Indonesia.
“[Gabbard is] a patriotic loyal American, a sitting four-term United States Congresswoman and a Major in the United States Army National Guard,” the letter continued, adding that “she is a loyal American who has taken an oath declaring her allegiance to the United States of America both as a soldier and as a member of Congress.”