In October 2019, failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke of the 2020 elections on a popular political podcast, where she admonished 2020 hopeful and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) as a “Russian asset” who, Clinton predicted, would betray Democrats with a third-party run that would prove beneficial to the Kremlin. Now, Gabbard is fighting back.
According to Breitbart, the Hawaii Democrat has filed a lawsuit against Clinton claiming her remarks constituted a “defamatory statement” that caused real damage to Gabbard’s candidacy. Gabbard is reportedly seeking no less than $50 million in damages.
A lawsuit on her hands
During Clinton’s October interview with former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, the former secretary of State, U.S. senator, first lady, and presidential candidate suggested — without actually stating the congresswoman’s name — that Gabbard was a “favorite of the Russians” and a “Russian asset” who was being “groomed” by the Kremlin to mount a disruptive third-party candidacy in 2020.
Gabbard issued a scathing response to those assertions in a three-part thread of tweets the following day, but the damage was already done: the media had seized on Clinton’s commentary and spread it far and wide among the American people with hundreds of reports on the internet, in print, and on TV.
The issue was compounded by the fact that many of Clinton’s allies signaled their support for the former first lady’s assertions, which, according to Gabbard’s lawsuit, only added to the irreparable harm caused to her candidacy and reputation in the minds of millions of “ordinary and average” Americans.
Clinton’s “defamatory statement”
In Gabbard’s suit, the congresswoman claims that Clinton’s defamatory statements were made with “malicious” intent that stemmed from a long-held grudge dating back to the 2016 Democratic primary, during which Gabbard endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) instead of Clinton.
Gabbard also repeatedly repudiated the insinuation that she was a “Russian agent,” pointing to her years of service in the Army National Guard, including two deployments to combat zones during the War on Terror, as well as her years of political service in Congress.
Unfortunately, Gabbard’s team argued in the legal brief, “[s]cientifically conducted opinion surveys have shown that Clinton’s false, malicious statements about Tulsi were accepted as true by millions of Americans, including large numbers of voters in battleground [p]residential primary states.”
In arguing the Clinton exhibited “actual malice” in making the “defamatory statement” against her, Gabbard’s lawyers claimed: “Rather than facts or reliable evidence, Clinton’s basis for the Defamatory Statements was one or both of: (a) her own imagination; or (b) extremely dubious conspiracy theories that any reasonable person (and especially Clinton, a former United States Senator and Secretary of State) would know to be fanciful, wholly unverified, and inherently and objectively unreliable.”
Millions in damages
In the end, Gabbard demanded compensation for the injury to her reputation in the amount of $50 million in actual damages, as well as all costs incurred as a result of the lawsuit and special and punitive damages in an amount to be determined in a jury trial, Breitbart reported. The congresswoman also demanded an injunction against the further publication and dissemination of the defamatory statement and any other relief the court may determine “just and proper.”
It remains unknown how successful this lawsuit filed by Gabbard against Clinton may be, if it even makes it to an actual trial in court.
That said, Clinton has clearly been served notice that she can’t cast baseless aspersions against her political rivals without facing a response — and if that succeeds in causing Clinton to refrain from issuing her vitriolic and rhetorical diatribes in the future, then Gabbard has performed an admirable service to the nation.