President Trump reignited his feud with Hillary Clinton, taking aim at his 2016 rival for her recent suggestions that presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard was being groomed by the Kremlin and is a potential Russian agent.
In an exclusive interview Monday on “Hannity,” Trump blasted the former secretary of state as part of a broader discussion with Sean Hannity about the Russia investigation, something he dismissed as a “phony scam.”
“Then you have Hillary Clinton saying two days ago, ‘Tulsi Gabbard is a Russian asset,’ and that Jill Stein was a Russian agent,” Trump told Hannity.
“I said, wait a minute, it took me two-and-a-half years, I wish she would have said that earlier because people… have realized she is crazy. She’s crazy.”
Trump’s assessment came amid the ongoing feud between Clinton and Gabbard, which was sparked by comments the former first lady made last week.
Appearing on former Obama aide David Plouffe’s “Campaign HQ” podcast, Clinton did not mention Gabbard specifically by name, though Plouffe ended the podcast by noting Clinton’s “belief that Tulsi Gabbard is going to be a third-party candidate propped up by Trump and the Russians.”
“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, in an apparent reference to Gabbard. “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.” She then accused Stein, who ran against her and Donald Trump in 2016, of also being an asset of Russia: “That’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset.”
Other Democrats have made similar claims about Gabbard, a Hawaii congresswoman and Hawaii Army National Guard major who served in Iraq.Gabbard — as well as other prominent Democrats — have slammed Clinton for the comments. “Tulsi is not being groomed by anyone. She is her own person,” former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke said over the weekend.
Trump said he doesn’t know Gabbard or Stein personally, but dismissed the allegations against both women. “I don’t know Jill Stein. I know her as an environmentalist and probably a good woman. The last thing she is is a Russian asset. I don’t know Tulsi Gabbard, but I know one thing: she’s not an asset of Russia. These people are sick. There’s something wrong with them,” Trump told Hannity.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang defended Gabbard in a tweet, writing she “deserves much more respect and thanks than this. She literally just got back from serving our country abroad.”
“The Democratic establishment has got to stop smearing women it finds inconvenient!” Marianne Williamson, the self-help author, tweeted. “The character assassination of women who don’t toe the party line will backfire. Stay strong @TulsiGabbard. You deserve respect and you have mine.” South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, also a veteran, was asked on CNN whether he felt Gabbard was a Russian asset and said: “I don’t know what the basis is for that.”
“I’d prefer to have the conversation be about policy, about what we’re going to do, and about how American lives are going to be different,” Buttigieg said Sunday. “When it comes to any of my Democratic competitors, that’s my focus, making sure that we make very clear the differences — and there are very real differences among us—and making it clear to voters what their choices are. That’s where I’d like the focus to be.”
Meanwhile, Gabbard herself posted a video message over the weekend claiming Clinton’s accusation was simply payback for her defiance of the party establishment during the 2016 presidential election.
“If they can falsely portray me as a traitor, then they can do it to anyone—and in fact, that’s exactly the message they want to get across to you,” Gabbard said in the video. “If you stand up to Hillary and the party power brokers—if you stand up to the rich and powerful elite and the war machine, they will destroy you and discredit your message.” She added: “But, here is the truth: They will not intimidate us. They will not silence us.” During his exclusive interview on “Hannity” Monday, Trump also said he hoped Attorney General William Barr would look into potential ties between Ukraine, Clinton and the controversial anti-Trump dossier compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele. “You hear about Ukraine, and you’ve been hearing about it. I heard Clinton was involved,” the president said.
“I heard they got somebody who wrote the fake dossier was out of Ukraine. All of the things that happened.
“And, I assume that the attorney general — I would like the attorney general to find out what’s going on. Because, you know what? We are investigating corruption.”
Trump has continued to face criticism over allegations he temporarily delayed $391 million in aid in order to leverage Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating potential Ukrainian involvement with Democrats during the 2016 election. The investigation request was part of a phone call between the two world leaders, but both Trump and Zelensky have insisted there was no pressure involved. The call was the basis for an anonymous whistleblower complaint that sparked House Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry that has included several closed-door interviews with officials related to U.S.-Ukraine relations.
The complaint also alleged that Trump wanted Ukraine to help the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings with Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.
House Democrats have been looking into whether the president engaged in a political quid pro quo when he asked the new Ukraine president to do a “favor” during the controversial conversation. It is illegal to solicit or receive anything of value from a foreign entity in U.S. elections.