Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has sued Madam Hillary Clinton for defamation in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Gabbard’s press release is posted online here; Gabbard’s Complaint is posted online here.
Clinton defamed Gabbard as a “Russian asset” in a statement that did not call her out by name, though I don’t think there can be any doubt that Clinton’s statement was “of and concerning” Gabbard. Identification of the plaintiff in the defamatory statement is of course an essential element of the cause of action for slander or libel. Gabbard’s Complaint addresses the issue in paragraph 28 et seq.
Is the statement that Gabbard is a “Russian asset” protected as a statement of opinion (rather than one of fact)? I hope not. See generally Complaint paragraphs 26-46.
The Complaint recites Gabbard’s request for a retraction from Clinton. Madam Hillary has declined to retract. See Complaint paragraphs 23-25.
The strongest defense in most defamation cases involving public figures is the requirement of proving “actual malice” that the Supreme Court has imposed in such cases. The Complaint addresses the requirement in paragraphs 37-46.
In the second sentence of her Complaint Gabbard asserts: “Tulsi Gabbard is running
for President of the United States, a position Clinton has long coveted, but has not been able to attain.” I look forward to checking out Clinton’s response on this point when she files her Answer.
Let the good times roll.