Kamala Harris

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)


The political world was rocked last week when it was reported that failed 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called 2020 presidential contender Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) a “Russian asset” along with 2016 Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

Clinton’s provocative comments, for which she provided no evidence, were made during a podcast with former Obama senior adviser David Plouffe. Gabbard obliterated Clinton in response on Twitter and then later in interviews.

Something that wasn’t widely reported last week, however, is that another Democrat was floating the “Tulsi is a Russian asset” accusation before Hillary was.

During last Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Gabbard mentioned a “CNN commentator” who that morning “said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia.”


That CNN commentator she was talking about is Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina state representative. Sellers is also a vocal supporter and surrogate for the presidential campaign of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), which was reported back in April.

On CNN’s New Day the morning of the debate, here’s what Sellers said about Gabbard:

“I firmly believe that Tulsi Gabbard stands on that stage and is the antithesis to what the other 11 individuals stand for, especially when it comes to issues such as foreign policy.”

“There is no question, there is no question that Tulsi Gabbard, of all the 12, is a puppet for the Russian government,” said Sellers, a lawyer and former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.

“[T]here is a chance that Tulsi is not just working for the United States,” he also said, adding, “That’s not just an allegation.” Sellers, however, did not produce any evidence to back up his claim.

Watch the segment below, courtesy of MRC-TV:

The panel appeared momentarily stunned. But as you can see from the transcript, New Day hosts Alisyn Camerota and John Berman provided little to no pushback on Sellers’ shocking remarks.

When Gabbard made her comments about him at the debate, I’m not sure if she knew he was a surrogate for the Harris campaign. Would have been VERY interesting to see her ask Harris point blank on the stage if she agreed with him. It could have been Tulsi vs. Kamala from the second debate all over again.

Which brings me to my main question: Did Harris know Sellers was going to make this “point” the day of the debate? Watch her non-answer Friday to a journalist’s question about Clinton’s accusations against Gabbard:

“I mean everyone is entitled to their opinion.” And then “I think that there is nothing else to say.” What is that even supposed to mean?

If I didn’t know any better I’d say Sellers’ comments were planned. There is a lot of bad blood between the Gabbard and Harris camps that stems even further back than just what happened at the July debate. It would not surprise me at all to find out this was calculated. Politicians – Democrats especially – are notorious for launching nasty broadsides at their political opposition via surrogates but then feigning ignorance or innocence when directly asked about it later.

Sen. Harris has proved time and time again she is not above this tactic herself. I can’t prove it, but my gut instinct tells me she was aware of what Sellers would accuse Gabbard of during that segment.

— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 16+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –