Sanders: 'Outrageous' to suggest Gabbard 'is a foreign asset'

Sanders: 'Outrageous' to suggest Gabbard 'is a foreign asset'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary MORE (I-Vt.) lashed out Monday at critics of fellow 2020 presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardThe Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine Outsider candidates outpoll insider candidates Krystal Ball: Tulsi Gabbard surges, is she the most electable? MORE (D-Hawaii) including Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary Manafort sought to hurt Clinton 2016 campaign efforts in key states: NYT MORE, after Clinton and others suggested that Gabbard is a "foreign asset" for Russia amid reports that Moscow's online bots and trolls are supporting her campaign.

In a tweet, the Vermont senator and runner-up for the 2016 Democratic nomination called such accusations "outrageous," pointing to Gabbard's background as a military veteran.

Sanders's comments come after Clinton said during a podcast on Thursday that she believes Moscow is "grooming" a candidate, clearly referring to Gabbard, to run as a third-party candidate and split the Democratic vote in 2020.

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"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.

Asked later by reporters if Clinton was referring to Gabbard, her spokesman responded: "If the nesting doll fits."

Gabbard later responded with her own fiery tweets, accusing Clinton of being corrupt and attempting to exert control over the Democratic Party.

"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," the Hawaii congresswoman tweeted.

"From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. 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," she added.

"It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me," Gabbard also challenged Clinton. "Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly."

Other 2020 Democratic candidates, including South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul Buttigieg2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary MORE and businessman Andrew YangAndrew YangWilliamson announces poverty plan with support for universal basic income, minimum wage The Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine Outsider candidates outpoll insider candidates MORE, have voiced support for Gabbard following Clinton's attacks.