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US candidate Gabbard sues Hillary Clinton for calling her 'Russian asset'

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US presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard, who is in near last place among Democrats in primary polling, filed a defamation suit on Wednesday against Hillary Clinton after the former secretary of state called her a "Russian asset."

[NEW YORK] US presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard, who is in near last place among Democrats in primary polling, filed a defamation suit on Wednesday against Hillary Clinton after the former secretary of state called her a "Russian asset."

Ms Gabbard alleges that Mrs Clinton made the comments in retaliation for her support of Bernie Sanders, the former secretary of state's rival in 2016 for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Mrs Clinton never mentioned Ms Gabbard by name, stating only that she was referring to "somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary."

"She's the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far," Mrs Clinton said in a podcast that aired in October, adding that "Yeah, she's a Russian asset."

The next day, CNN asked Mrs Clinton's spokesman if she was referring to Ms Gabbard. He replied: "If the nesting doll fits."

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Ms Gabbard, a 38-year-old Army veteran and Hawaii lawmaker who has criticised US involvement in Syria and received favourable coverage in Russian state media, said Mrs Clinton's accusation, which was widely repeated on social media, was "devastating" to her reputation.

"Clinton's peddling of this theory has harmed Tulsi, has harmed American voters, and has harmed American democracy," said Ms Gabbard, who added that she has "spent her entire adult life serving this country."

She said she had asked Mrs Clinton to retract the statement, to no avail.

One of 11 Democratic candidates seeking the party's presidential nomination, Ms Gabbard is polling at 1.3 per cent among likely primary voters, according to an average compiled by Real Clear Politics.

Mrs Clinton, a former first lady, was the Democratic nominee in 2016 but lost to Donald Trump in the November elections.

AFP

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