On Wednesday, the democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard filed a $50M suit against Hillary Clinton. The documents state that Clinton defamed Gabbard in an October podcast interview when she claimed that the candidate was a “Russian asset.”
"Clinton lied about her perceived rival Tulsi Gabbard. She did so publicly, unambiguously, and with obvious malicious intent. Tulsi has been harmed by Clinton’s lies — and American democracy has suffered as well," the lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court in New York, read.
During the interview with a former advisor to President Obama, David Plouffe, Clinton had stated that a Democratic candidate was "the favorite of the Russians." She did not name the candidate.
She stated, "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."
Although Clinton never mentioned the four-term congresswoman from Hawaii, five presidential candidates at the time were women: Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, and Marianne Williamson.
When Nick Merril, Clinton’s spokesperson, was asked whether Gabbard was the one being referred to in the statement, he responded: “If the nesting doll fits.” He was referring to Russian nesting dolls.
According to the suit, Gabbard claimed she suffered "significant actual damages, personally and professionally, that are estimated to exceed $50 million—and continue to this day."
Clinton’s statement ignited a political firestorm, and a number of politicians came to Gabbard’s defense, including President Trump and Bernie Sanders, her fellow Democratic presidential candidate.
Clinton has yet to publicly comment about the suit.
The suit states that Clinton’s possible reason for targeting Gabbard with a false accusation was “retribution” for endorsing Sanders during the 2016 Democratic primary, even though Sanders later endorsed Clinton in July 2016.
"Tulsi was told that the Clinton team would never forget this," the suit states.
Polls aggregate place Gabbard in ninth position nationally. She did not qualify to participate in the December or January debates.