Jill Stein Ridicules Hillary Clinton's Russian Asset 'Conspiracy Theory' About Tulsi Gabbard

Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein joined several 2020 Democratic candidates in ridiculing a "Russian asset" conspiracy theory floated by Hillary Clinton.

Stein responded Saturday morning to Clinton's unsubstantiated claim that she and Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard are part of a Russian-led attack on the U.S. election cycle that involves boosting support for third-party candidates. Stein and several 2020 Democratic contenders including Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang defended Gabbard from Clinton's latest Russian conspiracy theory for why she believes she lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump.

On Thursday, Clinton told David Plouffe's podcast she believes the Russians are "grooming" a third-party candidate to create dissent within the Democratic Party.

"I am not a Russian spy," Stein said Saturday on CNN's Smerconish. "I think this is a completely unhinged conspiracy theory for which there is absolutely no basis in fact. Not for myself and not for Tulsi Gabbard. I think it's really outrageous that Hillary Clinton is trying to promote this crazy idea."

Update: President Donald Trump weighed in on the spat between Stein and Clinton Saturday afternoon, "Crooked Hillary Clinton just called the respected environmentalist and Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, a 'Russian Asset.' They need a Green Party more than ever after looking at the Democrats disastrous environmental program!"

Stein, who got about 1.5 million votes in the 2016 election, also noted: "You know, you can't just slander people. You have to present some basis and fact."

Both Gabbard and Stein criticized Clinton in response, arguing that the former secretary of state continues to blame everyone but herself for losing to Trump. Gabbard responded by sarcastically thanking Clinton and labeling her "the queen of warmongers" and "embodiment of corruption" in U.S. politics.

"From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation," Gabbard tweeted Friday. "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."

Republican strategist Karl Rove joined in the rebuke of Clinton, demanding she "put up or shut up" on the accusations of Russian ties against Gabbard and Stein. Gabbard has previously insisted she will not run as a third-party candidate should she not receive the Democratic primary nomination; Stein is currently not running for president in 2020 at all.

Gabbard challenged Clinton to stop being "cowardly" and to join the 2020 race "directly" instead of attacking her from the shadows of U.S. politics. Both Stein and Gabbard received praise and defense from several 2020 Democratic challengers.

"The Democratic establishment has got to stop smearing women it finds inconvenient! The character assassination of women who don't toe the party line will backfire. Stay strong@TulsiGabbard. You deserve respect and you have mine," responded fellow 2020 candidate Marianne Williamson.

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill responded to Gabbard's rebuke of Clinton: "Divisive language filled with vitriol and conspiracy theories? Can't imagine a better proof point than this."

"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 had told former Obama adviser David Plouffe on Thursday. "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, which she might not because she is also a Russian asset."

"Tulsi Gabbard deserves much more respect and thanks than this. She literally just got back from serving our country abroad," replied Andrew Yang in a Friday evening tweet.

jill stein hillary clinton gabbard
Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein joined several 2020 Democratic candidates in ridiculing a "Russian asset" conspiracy theory floated by Hillary Clinton. Screenshot: CNN | Smerconish