Donald Trump on Monday defended Tulsi Gabbard from Hillary Clinton’s allegation she is being groomed by Russia, saying he doesn’t know the Hawaii Democrat but ‘she’s not a Russian agent’ and the charge is ‘sick.’
The president also used the question to rail against Clinton, his 2016 campaign rival, during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.
‘Hillary Clinton, I don’t know if you’ve heard of her, she’s the one accusing everybody of being a Russian agent. Anybody that is opposed to her is a Russian agent,’ he said. ‘That’s a scam that was pretty much put down.’
Donald Trump defended Tulsi Gabbard from Hillary Clinton’s allegation she is being groomed by Russians to play a third-party spoiler role in the 2020 election
Trump said he didn’t know Tulsi Gabbard but knew she wasn’t a Russian agent
Trump has pushed back against claims from U.S. intelligence agencies that found Russian hackers interfered in the 2016 election to the benefit of his campaign.
The president defended Gabbard, who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
‘I don’t know Tulsi, but she’s not a Russian agent,’ Trump said.
He did not explain how he knows this but did go off on a rant.
‘These people are sick. There’s something wrong with them,’ he said in what is believed to be in reference to Clinton and her supporters.
He also argued that Gabbard, who is at the bottom tier of the polls with 1 or 2 per cent of support, would be helped by Clinton’s charge.
‘I think that Tulsi Gabbard probably got helped quite a bit by this there,’ Trump said.
Gabbard, for her part, claimed Clinton is attacking her because she endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election.
In a two minute video posted to her Twitter account, that had 2 million views as of Monday afternoon, Gabbard charged a ‘corrupt elite’ with trying to ‘destroy my reputation’ because I stood up to them.’
‘People warned me in 2016 that my endorsement of Bernie Sanders would be the end of my “political career,”‘ she said. ‘They said “Clinton will never forget, that she and her rich and powerful friends, her allies in politics and in the media will make sure that you are destroyed.” Well there have been countless pieces full of smears against me from day one of this campaign.’
‘They’ve tried to destroy my reputation and my lifetime of service because I stood up to them,’ she added.
The Sanders campaign did not respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Tulsi Gabbard claimed Hillary Clinton is attacking her because she endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election
Gabbard has gone after Hillary Clinton since the former secretary of state implied she was a Russian asset
Gabbard endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential race – the two are seen here campaigning together in 2016
In her video, Gabbard then detailed her military service in the Army overseas – including her tours of duty in the Middle East – her time in the Army National Guard and her years in Congress.
And ended with a warning for viewers.
‘I’m not afraid to openly express my love for our country. But if they can falsely portray me as a traitor, then they can do it to anyone. And, in fact, that is exactly the message that they want to get across to you, that if you stand up against Hillary and the party power brokers, if you stand up to the rich and powerful elite, and the war machine they will destroy you and discredit your message,’ she said.
‘But here is the truth. They will not intimidate us. They will not silence us. We are not here just to protest their corruption. I am running for president to take the Democratic Party and our country back from the corrupt elite,’ Gabbard said.
Clinton and Gabbard feuded during the 2016 election when Gabbard quit her position as Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee to endorse Sanders, who, at the time, was challenging Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Before she resigned her DNC position, Gabbard criticized the party and then-DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for not scheduling enough primary debates between Clinton and her challengers for the nomination.
Gabbard has slammed Clinton repeatedly since the former secretary of state said the Russians were grooming a presidential candidate to act as a third-party spoiler in the 2020 election – thereby re-electing President Donald Trump – and implied it was Gabbard.
‘The reason why she’s doing this is because ultimately she knows she can’t control me,’ Gabbard, who was on the campaign trail in Iowa, told Fox News Friday night.
‘I stand against everything that she represents and she know that…if I’m the Democratic nominee and elected president, she won’t be able to control me, she won’t be able to manipulate me.’
Clinton, who lost the 2016 election in part because of Russian interference that boosted Trump, claimed Moscow was at it 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,’ Clinton said in an interview. ‘She’s the favorite of the Russians.’
Clinton did not mention Gabbard by name in the interview with former Obama adviser David Plouffe for his podcast but her accusation appeared directed at the congresswoman from Hawaii, who’s been accused in the past of being cozy with Moscow.
‘They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far,’ Clinton added.
Gabbard raged against Clinton in her response and dared the former secretary of state to enter the 2020 Democratic presidential primary to engage her directly.
‘It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly,’ Gabbard wrote on Twitter.
Hillary Clinton claimed the Russians were ‘grooming’ a Democratic presidential contender to be a third-party spoiler candidate
Tulsi Gabbard, in Tuesday’s debate, said the allegation she was a ‘Russian asset’ was ‘completely despicable’
Gabbard fired off three tweets in a row where she accused Clinton of being behind a secret effort to destroy her reputation.
‘Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain,’ Gabbard wrote.
‘From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose. It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly,’ she added.
Cory Booker, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination weighed in on the battle, retweeting Gabbard’s first tweet with a gif of him making wide-eyes.
There are only five women running for President – Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Marianne Williamson.
None of the other women have been accused of Russia ties.
In Tuesday’s fourth Democratic debate in Ohio, the Democrat from Hawaii said that claims she is a ‘Russian asset’ are ‘completely despicable.’
Tulsi Gabbard denied she is a Russian asset; Russian President Vladimir Putin was accused of interfering in the 2016 election
Tulsi Gabbard serves in the Army reserves
Gabbard also defended herJanuary 2017 trip to Syria where she met with its dictator Bashar al-Assad, who is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. No photographs of their meeting have been made public.
‘Just two days ago the New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears,’ she said during the debate.
‘This morning a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia.’
‘Completely despicable,’ she said of the comments and then promised: ‘As president I will end these regime change wars.’
Earlier this month The New York Times’ published an article entitled ‘What, Exactly, Is Tulsi Gabbard Up To?’ and noted her candidacy is supported by alt-right internet stars, white nationalists and Russians.
On Tuesday morning, the morning of the debate, CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers had said: ‘There is no question, there is no question that Tulsi Gabbard, of all the 12, is a puppet for the Russian government.’
Gabbard earns frequently mentions in Russian propaganda and media. She is a regular subject on RT, the news agency backed by the Kremlin.
A third-party bid by Gabbard in 2020 could draw votes away from the Democratic nominee and result in Donald Trump’s re-election. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg rejected making an independent bid in next year’s contest to avoid playing a spoiler role for Democrats.
But Gabbard has claimed she has no interest in a third-party candidacy.
She told CNN in August she would not make a third-party bid.
‘I will not,’ she said. ‘No, I have ruled that out.’