Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) on Wednesday filed a defamation lawsuit against twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for "carelessly and recklessly" accusing her of being a Russian asset.
"Tulsi Gabbard is running for President of the United States, a position Clinton has long coveted, but has not been able to attain," Gabbard's attorney Brian Dunne said in a statement. "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's lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, says it seeks to hold "political elites" like Clinton accountable for "distorting the truth in the middle of a critical Presidential election." It also contends that Clinton made her accusations with "obvious malicious intent."
"The Defamatory Statements have injured Tulsi’s reputation," the lawsuit says. "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 to her positions as United States Congresswoman; Presidential candidate; and officer in the Army National Guard."
The lawsuit, which estimates the damages to be $50 million and counting, is in response to an October interview in which Clinton claimed President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is preparing the Russian "favorite" Gabbard to run as a third-party candidate.
"I'm not making any predictions, but I think they've got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate," Clinton said. "She's the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far."
"That's assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not, because she's also a Russian asset," Clinton added. "She's a Russian asset, I mean totally."
Gabbard responded at the time by calling Clinton the "the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long."