Failed 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has withdrawn from a summit set to begin on Monday — but her spokesperson has insisted it has nothing to do with the fact that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) — with whom she’s been publicly feuding  — will be in attendance.
She “was scheduled to be interviewed at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit next week and withdrew,” a spokeswoman for the business publication told the New York Daily News .
The summit takes place in Washington, D.C., from Monday through Wednesday.
Other prominent individuals slated to attend include Susan Rice, Anita Hill, Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.)  and more.
“The former secretary of state’s sudden move fueled speculation she backed out due to Gabbard’s participation,” said the Daily News.
“On Friday, the lawmaker fired off a mean tweet attack that dubbed Clinton ‘the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long,’ and challenged her to ‘join the race directly.'”
“But Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill told the News her decision to withdraw is ‘not linked in the slightest’ to Gabbard’s trash talk.”
“’Couldn’t have even told you Gabbard was going,’ Merrill added in an e-mail,” the publication noted.
Merrill, instead, referenced a Slate article on Friday that cited a source close to Clinton.
That person blamed the summit’s inclusion of former secretary of homeland security Kirstjen Nielsen, “known for her role in separating migrant children and their families at the southern border,” as the News put it.
But that’s omitting a great deal of the history of America’s border policies  — including the fact many separation policies were begun by the administration of Barack Obama. 
For context, Gabbard has pushed back hard against Clinton — who started all of this.
The 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful  on Friday dared the former secretary of State to come forward and share her ambitions for the next presidential election — not “hide behind your proxies” but to “join the race directly.”
“From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation,” Gabbard also said.
“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,” said Gabbard. “Join the race directly.”
Responding to those attacks, Clinton spokesman Merrill said, “Divisive language filled with vitriol and conspiracy theories? Can’t imagine a better proof point than this,” as CNN reported.
Asked earlier if Hillary Clinton had been referring to Gabbard in her comments, Merrill said to CNN, “If the nesting doll fits.”
Reached for comment about the mean things Mean Hillary said about innocent and wonderful Tulsi Gabbard, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said, "If the nesting doll fits." https://t.co/0Me3cZQALs 
— Wonkette (@Wonkette) October 18, 2019 
But CNN and others also noted that Merrill, on Friday evening — after Clinton’s comments drew an outcry from both Democrats and Republicans — seemed to walk back the former secretary of state’s allegation.
He tweeted, “She doesn’t say the Russians are grooming anyone. It was a question about Republicans.”
Merrill also tweeted directly at Gabbard after her email about Hillary: “Assad day for your candidacy.”
That’s a snarky reference to Gabbard’s controversial meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in 2017.
Assad day for your candidacy. https://t.co/JsQHnY6Ygo 
— Nick Merrill (@NickMerrill) October 18, 2019 
Gabbard made her statements after Clinton appeared to accuse her of being a Russian asset — and someone who’s being “groomed” to run as a third-party candidate.
“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 wrote to Clinton in her three-part Friday tweet.
“From the day I announced my candidacy [for the 2020 Democratic nomination], there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation.”
Here’s Gabbard’s tweet:
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. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a …
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 18, 2019 
All of this occurred after Clinton, in a recent interview, seemed to indicate her acknowledgment of a conspiracy theory that the Russians are “grooming” Gabbard to be a third-party candidate in 2020.
Appearing on the “Campaign HQ” podcast, hosted by former Obama aide David Plouffe, Clinton didn’t reference Gabbard by name — but her comments after Plouffe mentioned Clinton’s “belief that Tulsi Gabbard is going to be a third-party candidate propped up by Trump and the Russians” were telling.
“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 favorite of the Russians,” she added.
“They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”
Hillary then accused Jill Stein, who ran against both her and Donald Trump in 2016, of also being a Russian asset.
“That’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset.”
Other Democrats have made similar claims about Gabbard, a Hawaii Democratic congresswoman and Hawaii Army National Guard major who served in Iraq.
During this presidential debate in Ohio this past week, Gabbard fired away at those accusing her of such a situation.
“Just two days ago, The New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears,” Gabbard said. “This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia — completely despicable.”
Democrats have repeatedly accused Gabbard of being a “puppet for the Russian government.”
Gabbard has accused the U.S. of waging a “regime change war” in Syria.
Some people this past Friday expressed concern that Gabbard would run as a third-party candidate — thus helping Trump in his re-election efforts.
“If @TulsiGabbard runs, it wd be a huge windfall for Trump, Assad, Putin, Xi,” former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power tweeted in response to Clinton’s comments.
Here’s the Power tweet.
2016 election was won by 78,000 votes spread among 3 states. Absent 3rd party candidates, @HillaryClinton  wd have won & @realDonaldTrump  wld not now be harming Americans(& our friends) & aiding autocrats. If @TulsiGabbard  runs, it wd be a huge windfall for Trump, Assad, Putin, Xi https://t.co/nTGFl5s4qd 
— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) October 18, 2019 
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