Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, claiming the former Secretary of State attempted to derail her presidential campaign by suggesting she was being supported by the Russians.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, about three months after Clinton appeared on David Plouffe's podcast. During the sit-down, Clinton began sharing her thoughts on the batch of 2020 Democratic candidates, claiming one of them was being "groomed" to run third-party.

"I’m not making any predictions, but 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 told Plouffe, Barack Obama's former campaign manager. "She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far and that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up because she’s also a Russian asset."

Though Clinton did not specifically name Gabbard, many were convinced she was speaking about the 38-year-old Army National Guard major. That speculation was seemingly confirmed by Clinton's spokesman Nick Merrill, who was asked if the comments were directed at Gabbard: "If the nesting doll fits," Merrill responded.

In a subsequent tweet, the spokesman claimed Clinton's remarks were misrepresented, and that she was simply speculating that Gabbard was being groomed by the GOP, not the Russians. 

Gabbard, who has repeatedly denied plans for a third-party bid, fired back via Twitter, claiming she was being targeted by Clinton and her "proxies" since the day she announced her candidacy. Gabbard also referred to Clinton as "the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that sickened the Democratic Party for so long."

According to the suit, Gabbard believes Clinton is targeting her because she had backed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary. Per the lawsuit, obtained by NBC News:

Tulsi believed the best Democratic presidential candidate for our country was Senator Bernie Sanders. She also knew that Clinton had a stranglehold over the Democratic party and that crossing Clinton (who considered herself the “inevitable nominee”) could mean the end of her own political career. Yet Tulsi put the country before herself, and she publicly endorsed Senator Sanders, becoming the most prominent politician to do so at the time.

Gabbard claims Clinton tried to retaliate by pushing a conspiracy theory intended to harm her presidential campaign as well as American democracy. 

"Tulsi brings this lawsuit to ensure that the truth prevails and to ensure this country’s political elites are held accountable for intentionally trying to distort the truth in the midst of a critical Presidential election," the lawsuit states.

Gabbard claims the remarks caused her to lose potential donors and voters. She is seeking $50 million in special and punitive damages.

Also Watch