Hillary Clinton, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2008 and 2016, suggested Thursday that current Democratic candidate Tulsi Gabbard is a “Russian asset” being groomed by the Kremlin “to be the third-party candidate” in order to spoil the election for the eventual Democratic nominee and ensure a Trump reelection victory.
Clinton made the claims in a podcast appearance in which she referred to Gabbard without mentioning her by name:
“They are also going to do third party again. 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 is a favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far. That’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she is also a Russian asset.
They know they can’t win without a third-party candidate, and so I do not know who it’s going to be, but I can guarantee you they will have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most need it.”
Clinton did not provide any evidence in the podcast to substantiate her claims. Democrats over the past three years have promoted successive claims of significant Russian involvement in United States affairs, including unproven allegations that President Trump colluded with operatives of that country to illegally steal the 2016 election.
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill was asked if Hillary Clinton was referring to Gabbard when she made the comments, and responded in the affirmative:
“If the nesting doll fits. This is not some outlandish claim. This is reality. If the Russian propaganda machine, both their state media and their bot and troll operations, is backing a candidate aligned with their interests, that is just a reality, it is not speculation.”
Tulsi Gabbard replied hours later with a fiery set of tweets calling Clinton “the queen of warmongers” and “cowardly” and challenging her to join the 2020 race: