World America 23 Jan 2020 Tulsi Gabbard sues C ...

Tulsi Gabbard sues Clinton for defamation

PTI
Published Jan 23, 2020, 10:57 am IST
Updated Jan 23, 2020, 10:57 am IST
Democratic presidential candidate claims USD 50 million in damages
Democratic presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Columbia, South Carolina. (AP)
 Democratic presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Columbia, South Carolina. (AP)

Washington: Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu lawmaker in the US Congress, has filed a defamation lawsuit against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seeking USD 50 million in damages. The US representative for Hawaii's second congressional district alleged that Hilary Clinton tarnished her reputation by suggesting her to be a "Russian asset" and "favourite of the Russians" in the 2020 White House race.

According to the lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, Tulsi has been harmed by Clinton's lies and American democracy has suffered as well. The lawsuit, also claimed that Hawaii Democrat Gabbard suffered an economic loss, to be proven at trial. "With this action, Tulsi seeks to hold Clinton and the political elites... accountable for distorting the truth in the middle of a critical presidential election," said the lawsuit.

 

"Hillary calling me a 'Russian asset' is not only intended to smear my reputation and derail my campaign for president, it's also intended to silence any voice that dares to speak out against the establishment status quo," Gabbard, 38, said in an email to her supporters explaining the reason for her suing Hilary Clinton, the Democratic nominee in the 2016 presidential elections.

Clinton, 72, who unsuccessfully fought the 2016 presidential election against President Donald Trump, in an interview in October last year said that the Republican party was "grooming" a Democratic presidential candidate to run as a third-party candidate. Although she did not name Gabbard, her comments were seen as directed at the Hawaii lawmaker.

According to the lawsuit, "millions of Americans heard (or read about) Clinton's defamatory statements. Scientifically conducted opinion surveys have shown that Clinton's false, malicious statements about Tulsi, including that Tulsi is a 'Russian asset' and 'the favourite of the Russians' were accepted as true by millions of Americans, including large numbers of voters in battleground presidential primary states".

"The defamatory statements have caused Tulsi to lose potential donors and potential voters who heard the defamatory statements. Tulsi has suffered significant actual damages, personally and professionally, that are estimated to exceed USD 50 million - and continue to this day".

The lawsuit alleges that as a direct and proximate result of Clinton's intentional and malicious misconduct, Gabbard has suffered anguish and damage to her reputation, with direct and substantial injury to her positions as United States Congresswoman; Presidential candidate; and officer in the Army National Guard.

"These substantial injuries are continuing in nature and will continued to be suffered in the future, unless and until they are remediated by this court," the lawsuit states.

"One would expect someone of Mrs Clinton's political background to act with a greater level of maturity and dignity, but her personal hostility toward Representative Gabbard apparently clouded Mrs Clinton's reason and blinded her to the US," said Gabbard's legal counsel Brian Dunne.

"She resorted to a damaging whisper campaign founded on lies, and when presented with the opportunity to retract her damaging remarks, she refused. Rep. Gabbard must defend her good name and hold Mrs Clinton responsible. This lawsuit intends to do just that," he said.

But given the US laws, it would be very tough for Gabbard in the defamation case against Clinton.

"To prevail in her defamation claim, Representative Gabbard has to prove that Secretary Clinton made a false statement of fact. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that mere 'loose and figurative' expressions, even 'vigorous epithets', don't qualify. And, the courts are especially protective of the right to engage in sharp-elbowed political debate," Jeffrey J Pyle, a Boston-based attorney, told ABC News.

"Representative Gabbard will have a difficult time convincing the court that Secretary Clinton's statements were anything other than non-factual 'rhetorical hyperbole' which is thoroughly protected by the First Amendment," said Pyle, who has represented a number of cases involving defamation, libel and the First Amendment.

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