Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for calling her a “favorite of the Russians,” NBC News reports.
Gabbard filed the complaint in New York, alleging that Clinton "carelessly and recklessly impugned" her reputation.
The lawsuit says it aims to hold Clinton and other “political elites” accountable for "distorting the truth in the middle of a critical Presidential election” and argues that Clinton’s comments caused Gabbard to suffer an economic loss.
"Although Rep. Gabbard's presidential campaign continues to gain momentum, she has seen her political and personal reputation smeared and her candidacy intentionally damaged by Clinton's malicious and demonstrably false remarks," Gabbard attorney Brian Dunne said in a statement.
Dunne said Clinton showed a “personal hostility” toward Gabbard and “resorted to a damaging whisper campaign founded on lies, and when presented with the opportunity to retract her damaging remarks, she refused."
Clinton spokesman rejects lawsuit:
"That's ridiculous,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill told NBC in response to the complaint.
Clinton made the comments during a podcast last year.
Clinton referred to former Green Party candidate Jill Stein as a “Russian asset” and said she believes a Democratic candidate in the current race “is a favorite of the Russians,” without identifying Gabbard by name.
"She's the favorite of the Russians, they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far, and that's assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not, because she's also a Russian asset," Clinton said.
Asked if the comment was about Gabbard, Merrill said, “if the nesting doll fits.”
Gabbard says if they can “do it to me they can do it to anybody”:
"If Hillary Clinton and her allies can successfully destroy my reputation — even though I’m a war veteran and a sitting member of Congress — then they can do it to anybody," Gabbard said in a statement. "I will not allow this blatant effort to intimidate me and other patriotic Americans into silence go unchallenged."
“Despite my lifetime of service to our country, Hillary Clinton has essentially tried to portray me as a traitor to our country,” she added. “Hillary Clinton and her allies want you to know that if you dare cross them, they will destroy your reputation as well.”