US Democratic hopeful criticises Clinton over Russia remarks

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard fires back at former first lady over comments suggesting she was being groomed by Russia.

    US Democratic hopeful criticises Clinton over Russia remarks
    Tulsi Gabbard speaks during the Democratic presidential debate in Westerville, Ohio [File: Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP]

    US Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has fired back at Hillary Clinton after the former secretary of state appeared to call her "the favourite of the Russians" in the 2020 elections race.

    "I think they've got their eye on somebody who's currently in the Democratic primary, and they're grooming her to be the third-party candidate," Clinton said on the Campaign HQ podcast that first aired on Thursday.

    "She's the favourite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far."

    Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, did not name Gabbard directly, but the Hawaii congresswoman essentially acknowledged she was the target by blasting out a stunning Twitter thread against the former first lady on Friday.

    "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 tweeted at her fellow Democrat.

    Gabbard, 38, accused 71-year-old Clinton, long a doyenne of the Washington establishment, of leading a "concerted campaign" to destroy her reputation since she announced her presidential run in January. 

    "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.

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    "It's now clear that this primary is between you and me," she continued. "Don't cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly."

    Clinton has said she is done running for president

    In the 2016 presidential election, Clinton won the popular vote with a margin of some three million votes but lost to Donald Trump through the electoral college vote, which went in the Republican candidate's favour with 304 to Clinton's 227.

    'Trump is Putin's dream'

    There is lingering trepidation in the Democratic Party of a repeat of the 2016 presidential race, when Russia interfered in the polls in an effort to help Trump defeat Clinton.

    US intelligence agencies have warned that Russia intends to meddle in the 2020 presidential election, as well.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has mocked that possibility, joking earlier this month that Moscow would "definitely intervene" again.

    During a Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday, Gabbard criticised a TV commentator who she said had called her "an asset of Russia". She called the comments "completely despicable".

    Without naming Gabbard, Clinton seemed to echo the commentator's remark during a podcast appearance this week on Campaign HQ with David Plouffe. Plouffe was campaign manager for President Barack Obama in 2008 and served as a senior adviser to the president.

    Clinton also called Trump "Vladimir Putin's dream" in the interview. She went on to say that Trump's inauguration speech was "like a declaration of war on half of America".

    The former US top diplomat also described 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein as "a Russian asset".

    The Russians know they cannot win without a third-party candidate, Clinton added.

    US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections, wrapped up his report earlier this year, concluding that Moscow did interfere in the polls to help boost Trump's chances of victory.

    But the investigation could not find evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Trump's election campaign and Russia.

    Clinton said it was clear Russia is laying the groundwork for similar interference in 2020.

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    SOURCE: News agencies