Attorneys for Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) on Monday demanded Hillary Clinton retract “defamatory” comments she made linking Gabbard to Russia.
“Your statement is defamatory, and we demand that you retract it immediately,” the 2020 presidential candidate’s lawyer wrote in in a letter obtained by The Hill, adding that Clinton should “immediately” renounce her remark.
“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,” Clinton said last month on the Campaign HQ podcast without referring to Gabbard directly. “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill afterwards appeared to confirm she was referring to Gabbard, responding, “If the nesting doll fits,” when asked whether Clinton had Gabbard in mind. After backlash, Merrill claimed that Clinton was referring to Republicans, not Russians, with the “grooming” comment.
“It appears you may now be claiming that this statement is about Republicans (not Russians) grooming Gabbard,” wrote Gabbard’s lawyer. “But this makes no sense in light of what you actually said. After you made the statement linking Congresswoman Gabbard to the Russians, you (through your spokesman) doubled down on it with the Russian nesting dolls remark.”
Gabbard scorched the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee in her response to the remarks, calling Clinton on Twitter, “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that sickened the Democratic Party for so long.”
“From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you,” Gabbard continued before challenging Clinton to “join the race directly.”
Gabbard has received bipartisan criticism over her anti-interventionist foreign policy, especially her view that Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad is “not an enemy” of the U.S.