Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard issued an eyebrow-raising response to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after the 2016 presidential runner-up accused her of being a Russian asset.
Clinton baselessly accused Gabbard of plotting a third-party run, which she has ruled out, to help Trump, who Gabbard has railed against, in an interview with former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.
Clinton called 2016 Green Party nominee Jill Stein a “Russian asset” because she ran as a third party in the election, which she had done in the previous election as well.
“Yeah, she’s a Russian asset — I mean, totally. 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,” Clinton said, even though exit polls show Stein voters in key states Clinton lost would not have voted for her or Trump if Stein had not run.
“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.”
Asked if Clinton was referring to Gabbard, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill told CNN, “If the nesting doll fits.”
“This is not some outlandish claim,” he added. “This is reality.”
Gabbard rips Clinton:
Gabbard hit back at Clinton on Twitter.
“Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton,” Gabbard wrote. “You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. 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, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose. It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.”
Hillary slammed for pushing ‘unhinged conspiracy theory’:
Stein hit back at Clinton in an appearance on CNN Saturday.
"I am not a Russian spy," Stein said. "I think this is a completely unhinged conspiracy theory for which there is absolutely no basis in fact. Not for myself and not for Tulsi Gabbard. I think it's really outrageous that Hillary Clinton is trying to promote this crazy idea."
"You know, you can't just slander people. You have to present some basis and fact,” she added.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg told NBC that he was not comfortable with Hillary’s baseless claim.
Author Marianne Williamson, another 2020 Democratic candidate, came out in defense of Gabbard.
“The Democratic establishment has got to stop smearing women it finds inconvenient!” she wrote. “The character assassination of women who don’t toe the party line will backfire. Stay strong @TulsiGabbard . You deserve respect and you have mine.”