Some congressional Democrats are backing former first lady Hillary Clinton in her war against Democrat presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, who she claims is being groomed by Russians to spoil the 2020 election.

The baseless allegation earned immediate scorn from across the political spectrum and sparked a furious response from the representative from Hawaii, while some folks like Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley refuse to denounce Clinton’s smear.

CNN’s Erin Burnett asked Quigley about the controversy on Monday and he insisted the former secretary of state “has a right to be upset.”

“Congressman, do you think Congresswoman Gabbard is a Russian asset, that she’s being used by the Russians?” Burnett questioned.

“I simply don’t have any knowledge or information on this,” Quigley said. “The fact of the matter is, Hillary Clinton has the right to be upset. The Russians did a full-throttle attack on her and the entire intelligence community agreed, all 17 entities with a high level of certainty, that the Russians attacked her, they attacked the Democratic process to help Trump.”

Burnett pressed with the obvious question: “Does that justify what she did though to Congresswoman Gabbard?”

“I have no idea whether or not that’s accurate, I can only reflect on the matters that have been before me, that I have knowledge of,” said Quigley, member of the House intelligence committee. “If it’s accurate, she has every right to confront her with that, and the Russians will try to make an asset of anyone they possibly can.”

During a podcast with former Obama aide David Plouffe last week, Clinton smeared both Gabbard and 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein as possible third-party candidates and tools of the Kremlin who could siphon voters away from the 2020 Democratic candidate and help re-elect Trump.

“They’re also going to do third party again. And I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody (Gabbard) who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton told Plouffe. “She’s the favorite of the Russians, they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far. And that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not, because she’s also a Russian asset.”

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Clinton’s comments prompted a direct response from Gabbard, who countered with claims the twice-failed presidential candidate is a corrupt as they come.

“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,” Gabbard posted to Twitter.

“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.

“It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.”

The feud comes amid speculation swirling that Clinton may be mounting a shadow campaign for a rematch with Trump in 2020, a theory bolstered by the former secretary of state’s nonstop media tours, public speeches, book signings, and other events since her humiliating 2016 loss.

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In recent weeks, Clinton has repeatedly refused to endorse any of the Democrats currently in the race, and urged her followers to “see who emerges” in the coming months, The American Mirror reports.

Gabbard, meanwhile, has received support from across the political spectrum in large part due to her strong opposition to the type of “regime change” wars Clinton promoted throughout her political career.

Gabbard’s desire to snuff out “endless war” abroad is a popular concept with many of President Trump’s followers, as well as foreign governments, including Russia.

According to Vox:

Once recent analysis from the Alliance for Securing Democracy (an electoral interference monitoring group) found that Russian state media has given Gabbard disproportionate coverage relative to her poll numbers. It also documented Twitter bots that appear to be of Russian origin being active on her behalf. That said, the extent to which Russian bots are working to promote Gabbard is contested, and it’s not clear that Clinton is justified in saying that Gabbard is Russia’s favorite.

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