Former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton peddled a bizarre conspiracy theory Tuesday claiming that the Russians are supporting U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii for a third-party presidential run.
“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 speculating of Russia’s latest plans in the upcoming presidential election on David Plouffe’s podcast. “She’s the favorite of the Russians.”
The wild charge prompted a response from Gabbard, accusing Clinton of running an operation to destroy the congresswoman’s campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
“You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain,” Gabbard wrote on Twitter. “From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies.”
… concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and …
— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) October 18, 2019
Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill doubled-down on the former nominee’s conspiratorial charges, confirming to CNN’s Dan Merica that Clinton was referencing Gabbard without referencing the congresswoman by name.
“Divisive language filled with vitriol and conspiracy theories? Can’t imagine a better proof point than this,” Merrill told Merica. “This is not some outlandish claim.”
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill responds to Gabbard’s response/thread: “Divisive language filled with vitriol and conspiracy theories? Can’t imagine a better proof point than this.” https://t.co/MofEisUVrf
— Dan Merica (@merica) October 18, 2019
Update from @merica: when asked if the former secretary of state was referring to Gabbard, Clinton spox Nick Merrill said, “If the nesting doll fits.”
“This is not some outlandish claim,” Merrill added. “This is reality.”
— Rebecca Buck (@RebeccaBuck) October 18, 2019
Clinton’s charges come as the Hawaii congresswoman fights to combat the image of a candidate being promoted by the Russians that some of her political opponents have painted in light of garnering praise from those associated with the so-called “alt-right” such as Steve Bannon and Richard Spencer.
During this week’s debate hosted by CNN and the New York Times, Gabbard slammed the Times for publishing a story chronicling interest in the congresswoman from Russia. Gabbard said the paper was branding her as a Russian asset, a charge all too familiar to President Donald Trump who was labeled as Putin’s puppet for more than three years only to be exonerated by a costly two-year investigation well into the president’s term.
Gabbard currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and previously served as the vice chair of the Democratic Party.
In her interview this week, Clinton also called former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein a Russian asset.