Declaring that Democratic presidential aspirant Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is "not a Russian agent", US President Donald Trump on Monday slammed his 2016 election rival Hillary Clinton for making such a "wild allegation" against the lawmaker from Hawaii.
"I don't know Tulsi, but she's not a Russian agent," Trump said.
"I don't know Jill Stein. I know she likes environment. I don't think she likes Russians. If she does like them, I know she's not an asset," Trump told reporters in response to a question during his Cabinet meeting at the White House.
"These people are sick. There's something wrong with them," Trump said.
"Hillary Clinton, I don't know if you've heard of her, she's the one accusing everybody of being a Russian agent. Anybody that is opposed to her is a Russian agent. That's a scam that was pretty much put down," he said.
In fact, Trump said that Clinton's comment would help the presidential campaign of Tulsi.
"I think that Tulsi Gabbard probably got helped quite a bit by this there," Trump said.
Last Friday, Gabbard slammed Clinton as "queen of warmongers" after the former US Secretary of State alleged that the Democratic election hopeful was being "groomed" by the Russians as the third-party candidate for the 2020 presidential elections.
Gabbard (38), who declared her presidential bid last year, is a favourite of the Indian-Americans mainly because of her being a Hindu.
The unprecedented war of words between the two US politicians erupted Friday when Clinton during an interview appeared to be floating a conspiracy theory that the Russians are "grooming" Gabbard to be the third-party candidate in the presidential elections.
"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 favourite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far," she told David Plouffe's "Campaign HQ" podcast.
Clinton did not take the name of Gabbard during the interview. But Plouffe, a former aide to the ex-president Barack Obama, concluded the podcast by saying that Clinton's "belief that Tulsi Gabbard is going to be a third-party candidate propped up by Trump and the Russians."
Gabbard, who is a fourth-term Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii, fired back.
"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," she tweeted.
She claimed that there has been a concerted campaign to "destroy my reputation" from the day she announced her candidacy for the US presidential elections.
"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 said.
"It's now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don't cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly," she said.
Last week, President Donald Trump had teased Clinton on joining the race.
Clinton, who ran unsuccessfully in 2008 and 2016 for the White House, has so far said she is not planning a third-stint at the US presidency.
Interestingly, both Clinton and Gabbard have a massive following among Indian Americans.
Gabbard is one of the more than dozen Democratic leaders who have thrown their hats in the party's 2020 primary race. While she has managed to appear in the presidential debates, her current polling is very low.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)