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Hillary Clinton at a memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton said on David Plouffe's podcast "Campaign HQ" this week that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is Russia's "favorite" 2020 candidate and said the country could be "grooming" her to become a third-party candidate.

"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. She's the favorite of the Russians."

What's new: Gabbard responded to Clinton on Friday, calling her the "queen of warmongers" in a 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 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 big picture: Gabbard's foreign policy stances significantly differ from other top Democratic candidates, especially on Syria. She has controversially defended Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, and met with him on a secret trip to Syria in 2017.

  • The New York Times reported that alt-right internet stars, white nationalists and Russians have praised her campaign.
  • CNN analyst Bakari Sellers called Gabbard a "puppet for the Russian government." He said, "That's not just an allegation. I firmly believe that Tulsi Gabbard stands on that stage and is the antithesis to what the other 11 individuals stand for — specially when it comes to issues such as foreign policy."
  • At this week's Democratic debate, Gabbard condemned news outlets like the the Times and CNN, saying it was "completely despicable" to call her an asset to Russia.

What else Clinton said: She told Plouffe that Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee for president in 2012 and 2016, is a "Russian asset — I mean, totally."

  • And she said that President Trump is Russian President "Vladimir Putin's dream," implying that she believes that Russia has some sort of leverage on the president. "I don't know what Putin has on him — whether it's both personal and financial. I assume it is."

Go deeper: Tulsi Gabbard on the issues, in under 500 words

Go deeper

Retail sales flat in April after huge surge in March

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

April retail sales in the U.S. were unchanged from March, which saw a surge revised up to 10.7%, according to the latest Commerce Department report published Friday.

Why it matters: The U.S. has been entering a period of growing optimism in the wake of the vaccine rollout, falling new COVID-19 cases and deaths, and a slowly recovering labor market. Retail sales were up 51% year-over-year compared to April 2020.

Policy group lays groundwork for "net negative" emissions tech

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new policy roadmap provides Congress and the White House with ways to support the growth of methods to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using everything from existing forests to direct air capture machines.

Driving the news: Recent climate studies, such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 1.5-degree report, have pointed to the clear need for society to pursue strategies for driving carbon emissions into negative territory by the latter half of the century.

New CDC mask guidance tests risk tolerance

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The CDC announced Thursday that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors.

Why it matters: The U.S. is entering a new stage in the pandemic where the public — vaccinated or not — will need to assess its own risk tolerance in shared spaces.