In an interview on the "Campaign HQ" podcast hosted by former Obama advisor David Plouffe, Hillary Clinton suggested that the Russians are "grooming" one of the Democratic primary candidates to launch a third-party presidential campaign.
"They know [Trump] can’t win without a third-party candidate," Clinton said.
"I'm not making any predictions but I think they [the Kremlin] have got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate," Clinton said. "She's the favorite of the Russians... They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far."
Of the five women currently running for the Democratic presidential nomination, only Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been accused of associations with Russia, based on her 2017 trip to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "If the nesting doll fits," Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill told CNN when asked if the former secretary of state was referring to Gabbard.
"That’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset. Yeah, she’s a Russian asset," Clinton said about 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. "I mean, totally. They know they can’t win without a third-party candidate. So I don’t know who it’s going to be, but I will guarantee you they will have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most needed."
"This is not some outlandish claim. This is reality," the Clinton spokesman told CNN. "If the Russian propaganda machine, both their state media and their bot and troll operations, is backing a candidate aligned with their interests, that is just a reality, it is not speculation."