Sanders: 'Outrageous' to suggest Gabbard 'is a foreign asset'

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) lashed out Monday at critics of fellow 2020 presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic MORE (D-Hawaii) including Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE, after Clinton and others suggested that Gabbard is a “foreign asset” for Russia amid reports that Moscow’s online bots and trolls are supporting her campaign.

In a tweet, the Vermont senator and runner-up for the 2016 Democratic nomination called such accusations “outrageous,” pointing to Gabbard’s background as a military veteran.

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Sanders’s comments come after Clinton said during a podcast on Thursday that she believes Moscow is “grooming” a candidate, clearly referring to Gabbard, to run as a third-party candidate and split the Democratic vote in 2020.

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“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.

Asked later by reporters if Clinton was referring to Gabbard, her spokesman responded: “If the nesting doll fits.”

Gabbard later responded with her own fiery tweets, accusing Clinton of being corrupt and attempting to exert control over the Democratic Party.

“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,” the Hawaii congresswoman tweeted.

“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,” she added.

“It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me,” Gabbard also challenged Clinton. “Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.”

Other 2020 Democratic candidates, including South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE and businessman Andrew YangAndrew YangGeorge Floyd protests show corporations must support racial and economic equality Andrew Yang discusses his universal basic income pilot program Andrew Yang on the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis MORE, have voiced support for Gabbard following Clinton’s attacks.