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

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

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports Biden tax-hike proposals face bumpy road ahead Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster MORE (I-Vt.) lashed out Monday at critics of fellow 2020 presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard blasts new House rules on gender neutral language as 'height of hypocrisy' A vaccine, a Burrito and more: 7 lighter, memorable moments from 2020 Growing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting MORE (D-Hawaii) including Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJuan Williams: The real 'Deep State' is pro-Trump Rep. John Katko: Why I became the first Republican lawmaker to support impeachment Can we protect our country — from our rulers, and ourselves? 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 ButtigiegPete ButtigiegOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks | Democrats eye action on range of climate bills | Biden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports Biden rolls out group of deputy secretary nominees On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE and businessman Andrew YangAndrew YangAndrew Yang sparks Twitter uproar with pro-bodega video Yang announces run for New York City mayor Yang files to open campaign account for NYC mayor MORE, have voiced support for Gabbard following Clinton's attacks.