Lawyers for 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard on Monday fired off a letter to representatives of failed 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, demanding that the Chicago-born politician "verbally retract" recent statements that suggested Gabbard was being "groomed" as a third-party candidate by Russian Federation. Clinton in a podcast on October 17 called Gabbard the "favorite of the Russians," also saying she's being groomed for a third-party bid.
"Your statement is defamatory, and we demand that you retract it immediately", a letter from Gabbard's lawyer reads, according to The Hill.
Gabbard told ABC's "The View" she won't mount a third-party run and wants to 'build a new Democratic Party'. She's the favorite of the Russians.
The Gabbard campaign counsel's letter went on to say that Gabbard is "a patriotic loyal American, a sitting four-term United States Congresswoman and a Major in the United States Army National Guard" and that "she is a loyal American who has taken an oath declaring her allegiance to the United States of America both as a soldier and as a member of Congress".
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A letter from the Gabbard campaign's legal counsel insisted that Gabbard is not a Russian asset, and that Clinton knew the statement was untrue when she said it. But this makes no sense in light of what you actually said. After you made the statement linking Congresswoman Gabbard to the Russians, you (through your spokesman) doubled down on it with the Russian nesting dolls remark'.
But he appeared to confirm Clinton was referring to Gabbard when he told CNN: 'If the nesting doll fits'. During the conversation, Clinton said, "I'm not making any predictions, but I think they've got their eye on somebody who is now in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate".
After initial reporting that Clinton said the Russians were grooming Gabbard, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill tweeted that Clinton didn't say the Russians were 'grooming anyone, ' and that the question was about Republicans.
Gabbard's campaign sent out the letter on Monday, weeks after Clinton's initial comment caused a stir - and prompted furious pushback and fundraising by Gabbard.
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"Moreover, the Republicans-not-Russians spin can not explain away your statement that Congresswoman Gabbard is 'a Russian asset, '" it continued.
"In making the statement, you knew it was false".
Gabbard's camp did not respond to a request from Fox News asking if she intends to sue Clinton if no retraction is forthcoming. "This fabricated story is so facially improbable that it is actionable as defamation".
Early reports about Clinton's comments said that the former secretary of state meant that Gabbard was being groomed to be a third-party candidate by Russians, but it was later clarified that she was referring to Republicans.
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