Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard defended her decision to file a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton in January, insisting that it was not a political maneuver.
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"It's important to understand that this is not just another political thing where one person said this, another person said that," Gabbard told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday. "The accusation that Hillary Clinton made really devalues the essence of who I am."
In the lawsuit, Gabbard claimed the 2016 Democratic nominee defamed her when she called her a "Russian asset" during an October podcast interview.
"Clinton lied about her perceived rival Tulsi Gabbard," the lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court in New York, read. "She did so publicly, unambiguously, and with obvious malicious intent. Tulsi has been harmed by Clinton’s lies — and American democracy has suffered as well."
During an October interview, Clinton suggested that an unnamed Democratic presidential candidate was "the favorite of 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, speaking on a podcast with David Plouffe, a former adviser to President Obama.
Although she never named Gabbard, a four-term congresswoman from Hawaii, there were just five women running for president at the time: Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Marianne Williamson.
"This is about my life, and the oath of loyalty and service, willingness to lay down one's life for this country," Gabbard said on Wednesday.
"I am not willing to standby to allow her or any of her powerful allies or partners to take such an action, which is why I filed this lawsuit," she added.
The Hawaii representative is the first female combat veteran to run for president. She served in the Army National Guard for 16 years and has made that service an integral part of her bid for president.
Gabbard's suit suggests that Clinton targeted her with a false accusation for "retribution" over her endorsement of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton's rival in the Democratic primary, in 2016. (Sanders eventually endorsed Clinton for president in July 2016).
According to an aggregate of polls, Gabbard is currently in ninth nationally. She has not qualified for the Democratic debate in Las Vegas next week.