Tulsi Gabbard is accusing Hillary Clinton of defamation for comments she made last month pertaining to Russia’s support of the Hawaii congresswoman.
An attorney for Gabbard is demanding that Clinton hold a press conference and retract her comments, according to a letter Gabbard’s presidential campaign released to the media today. The letter also demands that Clinton issue a retraction on her Twitter account and send it out to major news outlets that includes praise for Gabbard’s work serving the country.
The attorney is unnamed in Gabbard’s media release and her campaign did not respond to a question about who is representing her.
Gabbard’s campaign has been stoking the controversy concerning Clinton’s comments for several weeks, using it to solicit campaign donations and attract national media attention. However, the controversy, in part, was fueled by inaccurate reports by the media which Gabbard has continued to push.
Last month, the national media widely and erroneously reported that Clinton said the Russians were grooming Gabbard for a third-party run during an interview with David Plouffe, a former aid to President Barack Obama. However, Clinton was referring to the Republican Party, not the Russians, and media organizations have since largely corrected their stories.
Still, Clinton’s comments were controversial because they inferred Gabbard was an asset to the Russians, generating criticism that Clinton was engaging in a modern day McCarthyism.
Gabbard has received coverage in RT, a news agency backed by the Kremlin, and there have been signs that bot-like activity has amplified support for Gabbard. But there’s been no reported evidence that Gabbard has any connections to those networks.
The day the original story broke on Clinton’s comments, Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton tried to correct the reports, asking the media to go back and listen to the interview. Major news outlets eventually issued corrections.
But Gabbard has continued to repeat the claim that Clinton said the Russians were grooming her to be a third-party candidate. In an Oct. 30 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Gabbard wrote that, “Hillary Clinton emerged recently to claim, with no basis in fact, that I am being ‘groomed’ by the Russian government to undermine America.”
The Washington Post awarded Gabbard three out of four Pinocchio’s in a fact check for misquoting Clinton.
In the letter distributed by Gabbard’s campaign today, her attorney says Clinton’s “Republicans-not-Russians spin is rubbish.”
Gabbard is asking that Clinton distribute the following retraction:
“On October 17, 2019, I made certain statements about Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Among other things, I accused her of being a Russian asset and that Russia was grooming her to be a third-party presidential candidate. I was wrong. I never should have made these remarks, and I apologize. I did not have any basis for making the statements. I acknowledge my grave mistake and error in judgment in this matter.
“I support and admire the work that Congresswoman Gabbard has done and will continue to do in serving our country.”
Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.