Former 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein slammed Hillary Clinton’s accusations that she and 2020 Democratic candidate Tulsi Gabbard are Russian assets, calling Clinton’s comments a “wild and insulting theory.”
“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.”
She added, “You know, you can’t just slander people. You have to present some basis and fact.”
Speaking on a podcast Thursday, Clinton accused Stein of being a “Russian asset.” She also claimed the Russians are currently “grooming” a Democrat running in the 2020 presidential primary to run as a third-party candidate and champion their interests. Though she never names Gabbard, Clinton’s comments appeared to be aimed at the Hawaii congresswoman.
Stein told CNN on Saturday that Clinton’s remarks “speaks to Hillary’s need to try to explain, perhaps to herself, why her campaign was not successful.”
“People really wanted change, and unfortunately believed Donald Trump’s lies that he was going to bring change,” Stein said.
The former Green Party candidate went on to advocate for ranked-choice voting, arguing that it would prevent any foreign asset from swaying an election.
Stein’s campaign, which earned nearly 1.5 million votes in the 2016 election, was part of Russia’s meddling efforts, according to a host of congressional reports, including a Senate Intelligence Committee report that indicated Russian social media efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election included messaging in support of Stein.
She has compared Russian interference in the 2016 election with US overseas intelligence efforts and also praised WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2016 after WikiLeaks posted a trove of hacked Democratic National Committee emails, saying there was “no question” he was a hero.
In 2015, Stein traveled to Moscow to attend a dinner that was hosted by RT, the Russian television network, and was photographed seated at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin.
She previously told CNN that she never spoke with Putin during the dinner, and she said Saturday that she attended the conference to advocate for a ceasefire in the Middle East and to tell Russia to stop bombing Syria.
Asked about that 2015 dinner and if that was fueling Clinton’s claims, Stein raised that there are “many more pictures of Hillary Clinton having intimate conversations with Putin whispering in her ear.”
“And we actually know there was real money exchanged,” she added, pointing to former President Bill Clinton’s paid speech in Moscow from a Kremlin-linked bank.
Clinton on Thursday did not provide proof about how Russia is “grooming” Gabbard.
Gabbard responded on Twitter Friday afternoon to Clinton’s comments, calling the former Democratic nominee the “embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.”
“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,” Gabbard wrote to Clinton.
Responding on Friday to Gabbard’s comments, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said, “Divisive language filled with vitriol and conspiracy theories? Can’t imagine a better proof point than this.”
Asked earlier if the former secretary of state was referring to Gabbard in her comment, Merrill told CNN, “If the nesting doll fits.”