MANHATTAN (CN) — Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard brought a federal complaint Wednesday against Hillary Clinton, claiming that the former secretary of state’s labeling of Gabbard as a “Russian asset” was defamatory.
Gabbard, who has represented the 2nd District of Hawaii in Congress for four terms, filed her suit in New York’s Southern District, based on Clinton’s home here.
Represented by attorneys at Pierce Bainbridge, Gabbard calls Clinton a “cutthroat politician” who still holds a grudge over Gabbard’s endorsement of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders over her in the 2016 election.
“And in October 2019, she sought retribution by lying, publicly and loudly, about Tulsi Gabbard,” the complaint states. “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.”
Clinton first made the remarks on a podcast with David Plouffe.
“She’s the favorite of the Russians,” Clinton said during the Oct. 17, 2019 podcast. “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. Yeah, she’s a Russian asset.”
The next day Clinton doubled-down on those remarks, according to Gabbard’s complaint.
“A CNN reporter asked Clinton’s official spokesman, Nick Merrill, whether the defamatory statements were about Tulsi,” the complaint states. “Clinton’s spokesman responded: ‘If the nesting doll fits.’ He continued: ‘This is not some outlandish claim. This is reality.’”
The complaint says Gabbard’s requests for Clinton to correct the record went nowhere.
“Clinton did not retract the defamatory statements,” the complaint states. “Nor did she apologize for the defamatory statements.”
Clinton did not immediately respond to comments on the lawsuit, but she tweeted Tuesday, “I thought everyone wanted my authentic, unvarnished views!”
That tweet likely refers to a Hollywood Reporter interview published Tuesday promoting a new documentary about Clinton that will premiere on Saturday. In it, Clinton declines to say if she would endorse Sanders if he wins the Democratic nomination.
“Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done,” Clinton said.
Gabbard claims Clinton’s remarks have injured her reputation.
“As a direct and proximate result of Clinton’s intentional and malicious misconduct, Tulsi has suffered anguish and damage to her reputation, with direct and substantial injury,” the complaint states.
Gabbard estimated the actual damages from Clinton’s remarks at $50 million.
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