Gabbard v. Clinton, Continued

Earlier today, a lawyer representing Tulsi Gabbard wrote to Hillary Clinton accusing her of defaming Gabbard by calling her a Russian asset and demanding a retraction:

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.

It is almost impossible for a public official like Tulsi Gabbard to win a defamation case under existing law, but Clinton’s claim was so ridiculous that Tulsi might have a shot.

The letter is part of Gabbard’s continuing pushback after Clinton appeared on the podcast Campaign HQ with David Plouffe on Oct. 17. During the conversation, Clinton said, “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. She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far. And, that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset. Yeah, she’s a Russian asset. I mean, totally.”

One might assume that Hillary had a few Chardonnays too many. But what can explain her spokeswoman’s response when asked whether Hillary was referring to Gabbard?

The following day, a CNN reporter asked a Clinton spokesperson if Clinton was talking about Gabbard, to which the spokesperson said, “If the nesting doll fits,” implying that the statement was indeed about Gabbard.

Tulsi’s lawyer laid it on thickly, and entirely appropriately:

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.”

Confronted with blowback over her deranged accusation, Clinton tried to back off by claiming that she meant Tulsi was a Republican, not a Russian, asset. That wasn’t what she said, of course, and the Gabbard campaign is having none of it:

“This Republicans-not-Russians spin developed only after you realized the defamatory nature of your statement, and therefore your legal liability, as well as the full extent of the public backlash against your statement,” the letter said.

“Moreover, the Republicans-not-Russians spin cannot explain away your statement that Congresswoman Gabbard is ‘a Russian asset,’” it continued. “That is, of course, because your Republicans-not-Russians spin is rubbish.”

I would like to see the Democrats nominate Tulsi Gabbard. Sure, she is a lefty, but she is also a loyal and patriotic American, and is not a hater. In those respects, she reminds me of a considerably more attractive George McGovern. But those qualities disqualify her in the eyes of the Democratic Party’s rank and file. And I don’t see how any of the frontrunners can choose her as a vice presidential candidate, when she disagrees with them on such fundamental values.

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