Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday made the baseless claim that Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party's 2016 nominee for president, was a Russian agent—an allegation that was met with derision from Stein and an invitation to debate.
"In light of the latest slanderous allegations from Hillary Clinton, I challenge her to a debate," tweeted Stein.
In light of the latest slanderous allegations from @HillaryClinton, I challenge her to a debate. It's past time to give the American people the real debate they deserved in 2016, but were denied by the phony DNC/RNC-controlled Commission on Presidential Debates. https://t.co/OvvEjJ9sMx— Dr. Jill Stein🌻 (@DrJillStein) October 18, 2019
"It's a shame HRC is peddling conspiracy theories to justify her failure instead of reflecting on real reasons Dems lost in 2016," Stein added.
Clinton, who lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump, made the comments in an interview with David Plouffe on his Campaign HQ podcast.
"She's a Russian asset," said Clinton.
"I mean, totally."
The former secretary of state also claimed that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), a hopeful for the Democratic nomination in 2020, was compromised by Russia.
Hillary Clinton doesn't just predict the Russians will support Tulsi Gabbard as a third-party candidate; she also calls Jill Stein "a Russian asset -- I mean totally."— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) October 18, 2019
Full context: pic.twitter.com/a5wZeCKWsd
"She's the favorite of the Russians," said Clinton, who also claimed that Gabbard is being set up to run third party. "They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far."
The comments didn't sit well with Noah Schachtman, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast.
"I hope Hillary has solid evidence for this," said Shachtman.
"Otherwise, it's an incredibly fucked up thing for someone of her stature to just blurt out."
According to The Washington Post, Clinton has yet to back up her remarks:
Clinton did not provide any evidence for her claim, though a spokesman later insisted to CNN, "This is not some outlandish claim; this is reality."
Progressives responded to Clinton's conspiracy theories with ridicule.
"Hillary's comments about Tulsi just make totally clear how ridiculous the Russia conspiracy crowd has become," said journalist Krystal Ball.
Grayzone journalist Aaron Maté called Clinton's comments "vile" and centered them in the context of the broader narrative of Democrats smearing opponents as "Russian dupes."
"The delusion runs deep," said Maté.
As The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald pointed out, Clinton herself is no stranger to conspiracy theory slurs.
"This is on the level of those who accused Hillary of murdering Vince Foster and running a drug ring out of that Mena runway," said Greenwald. "It's unhinged and shameful—but completely in line with standard Democratic tactics."