U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, speaking at a presidential campaign event in Merrimack, NH on April 4, 2019.
Photo Credit: Marc Nozell (CC-By-2.0)

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, filed a defamation lawsuit against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking for damages for Clinton claiming Gabbard is a Russian asset.

Clinton, in a conversation on former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, “Campaign HQ” in October, said that Russians are grooming Gabbard for a third-party bid to get President Donald Trump elected.

“They’re also going to do third-party again,” Clinton said. “I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on someone who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”

Gabbard’s attorneys in their complaint filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said Clinton lied when she made that statement.

“Tulsi Gabbard is running for President of the United States, a position Clinton has long coveted, but has not been able to attain. In October 2019—whether out of personal animus, political enmity, or fear of real change within a political party Clinton and her allies have long dominated—Clinton lied about her perceived rival Tulsi Gabbard. She did so publicly, unambiguously, and with obvious malicious intent. Tulsi has been harmed by Clinton’s lies—and American democracy has suffered as well,” the complaint’s first page reads in part.

The language of the complaint is rather brutal.

“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. Specifically, in widely disseminated national comments, Clinton falsely stated that Tulsi—an Army National Guard officer and United States Congresswoman who has spent her entire adult life serving this country—is a “Russian asset.” Clinton’s false assertions were made in a deliberate attempt to derail Tulsi’s presidential campaign,” the complaint reads.

The complaint also states that after several calls for Clinton to retract her comments, she has refused to do so.

Gabbard claims that Clinton made these comments in response to Gabbard’s support of U.S. Senator Bernie Sander’s 2016 presidential campaign while she was a vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee.

“Americans do not want to support Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election, and because Clinton maliciously lied, many Americans now associate Tulsi with such foreign interference. In short, Clinton has to date gotten exactly what she wanted by spreading malicious lies about Tulsi through the Defamatory Statements: she has greatly harmed Tulsi’s Presidential Campaign,” the complaint reads.

The complaint states that as a result of Clinton’s comments, Gabbard, at minimum, lost $50 million in donations for her campaign, potential voters, and damage to her personal and professional reputation as a member of Congress, presidential candidate, and officer in the Hawaii Army National Guard.

Read the full complaint here.

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