Democratic presidential primary candidate Tulsi Gabbard upped the ante this week, filing a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton.
Coming in light of a major media standoff between the two late last year, the suit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges Clinton did tangible damage to Gabbard’s presidential efforts by lying “publicly, unambiguously, and with obvious malicious intent” about the candidate being a “Russian asset.”
According to a corresponding news release from Gabbard’s campaign, the U.S. veteran and representative from Hawaii is seeking not only damages but also “an injunction prohibiting the further publication of Clinton’s defamatory statements.”
The release called out Clinton for making “deliberately and maliciously made false statements.”
“Tulsi Gabbard is running for President of the United States, a position Clinton has long coveted, but has not been able to attain,” the suit read. “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 Gabbard is running for President of the United States, a position Clinton has long coveted, but has not been able to attain.” https://t.co/Y1oTOzT9WU
— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) January 22, 2020
“Tulsi has been harmed by Clinton’s lies — and American democracy has suffered as well,” the lawsuit claimed.
Gabbard’s willingness to speak out in favor of a more anti-establishment and anti-interventionist mindset in Washington has long set the congresswoman at odds with the Democratic Party’s 2016 nominee.
The pot boiled over between the two last fall, however, when multiple establishment media sources reported Clinton had smeared Gabbard while speaking on a left-wing podcast hosted by former Obama adviser David Plouffe.
On the podcast, released on Oct. 17, Clinton turned heads with claims the Hawaii representative was a “favorite of the Russians,” and that nefarious characters were allegedly “grooming” her to become a third-party spoiler candidate in the 2020 general election — a decision that would aid President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign considerably.
“I’m not making any predictions,” Clinton had told Plouffe, “but I think [the Russians have] got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate.”
“[Gabbard is] the favorite of the Russians,” Clinton added.
A perfect storm of media controversy followed, with reporters and even debate moderators breathlessly forwarding the allegations without even a shred of evidence.
Gabbard would take to the offensive throughout November and December, publishing an Op-Ed for The Wall Street Journal to correct the record herself and attack Clinton’s scandal-ridden track record on foreign policy.
Still, Clinton and her aides refused to issue an apology — even when served with a letter from Gabbard’s lawyers.
The near-constant media coverage did not, however, give Gabbard’s campaign a boost.
— Adam Sexton (@AdamSextonWMUR) January 21, 2020
Unable to make a return to the Democratic debate stage with the Iowa caucus drawing nearer, Gabbard’s polling numbers have fallen dramatically, stagnating between one and two percent, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls.
But Wednesday’s lawsuit is about more than just the results of a hard-fought primary, the court filings argue. It is about accountability and truth.
“With this action, Tulsi seeks to hold Clinton, and the political elites who enable her, accountable for distorting the truth in the middle of a critical Presidential election,” the lawsuit claims.
Clinton’s aides, however, do not see it that way.
According to The Hill, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill simply said the lawsuit was “ridiculous.”
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