A lawyer for Hillary Clinton has finally accepted legal documents in connection with a $50 million defamation lawsuit filed by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, the Hawaii congresswoman’s lawyer told Fox News on Thursday night.
“We look forward to finally moving forward on the merits” of the case, said Brian Dunne, lead attorney representing Gabbard, who is suing over Clinton indirectly referring to her as a “Russian asset” during an October interview.
The development comes after Clinton or her representatives declined to accept the papers in three previous attempts to serve them, Dunne said.
“Today, after the media picked up this story, Ms. Clinton’s lawyer changed course and agreed to accept service,” Dunne told Fox News in a statement. “We would have preferred that Ms. Clinton just accept federal judicial process in the first instance, without having to be called out by the press, but in any event, Tulsi Gabbard’s lawsuit against her will now be moving forward.”
Fox News left written and phone messages late Thursday for Clinton attorney David Kendall of the Washington law firm Williams & Connolly LLP but did not receive a response.
At a campaign event in Portsmouth, N.H., on Thursday evening, Gabbard hadn’t yet heard that Clinton’s team accepted the legal papers.
“The latest that I’ve heard is that it’s what’s been reported, that she has refused to be served the documents related to the lawsuit,” Gabbard told reporters. “I think this is unfortunate, you know. No one is above the law. This lawsuit is about accountability – not just for me but for all service members and for the American people.”
“No one is above the law. This lawsuit is about accountability – not just for me but for all service members and for the American people.”
— U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, on why she’s suing Hillary Clinton
Clinton had said in an October 2019 interview that one of the Democratic presidential candidates was “the favorite of the Russians” and was being groomed as a third-party candidate for the 2020 general election in November.
Clinton never mentioned Gabbard by name, but when asked to confirm whether the former first lady was referring to Gabbard, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill responded at the time, “If the nesting doll fits … ” a reference to popular Russian dolls.
Clinton’s response to the lawsuit will likely be due around the end of March, and the first hearing in the case will likely be scheduled around that time, Dunne said.
Dunne said his office previously tried to serve the legal documents to Clinton three times – once at an address said to be a Clinton office, once at the Clintons’ home in Chappaqua, N.Y., and once at Kendall’s office – but the deliveries were rejected each of those times.
The Clinton office address “turned out to be a mail drop,” Dunne said.
He added that the Chappaqua delivery was denied by Secret Service agents at the Clinton home.
“I have my concerns about the use of Secret Service agents to interfere with service of federal judicial documents, but I digress,” Dunne wrote in his statement.
At Kendall’s office, “our server was told Kendall ‘is not authorized to accept service on behalf of Hillary Clinton,’” Dunne wrote.
Fox News’ Rob DiRienzo and Julia Musto contributed to this story.