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Gabbard releases cease and desist letter to Romney over 'treasonous lies' accusation

Former congresswoman is threatening legal action if GOP senator doesn't retract statement that she spread lies, apparently about US biolabs in Ukraine

Published: April 21, 2022 11:13am

Updated: April 21, 2022 1:57pm

Former Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has sent Sen. Mitt Romney a crease-and-desist letter over the Utah Republican's recent accusation that she has told "treasonous lies." 

The letter, which Gabbard posted to her social media, accuses Romney of making "false and defamatory statements" and encourages him to enter into a settlement with her before the process reaches the litigation stages.

"Tulsi Gabbard is parroting false Russian propaganda," Romney tweeted March 13 about the ex-Hawaii congresswoman, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine was roughly two weeks old. "Her treasonous lies may well cost lives."

The senator and former Massachusetts governor and 2016 GOP presidential nominee did not offer specifics. But he purportedly was  referring to comments Gabbard – a major in the Army National Guard who served two tours of duty in the Middle East – made about biolabs in Ukraine.

Last month, Gabbard, also a 2020 presidential candidate, told Fox News show host Tucker Carlson that she was "deeply concerned" about the biolab issue and posted a video to her social media accounts in which she said that there are more than 25 "U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine, which if breached would release and spread deadly pathogens."

"While your tweet lacked any context, we surmise that your tweet was made in reference to a video Representative Gabbard published on Twitter that same day," Gabbard's attorney said about the Romney tweet.

"In her video, Representative Gabbard called for a ceasefire in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine so that any biological laboratories in Ukraine could be secured," states the cease-and-desist document, which also argues everything Gabbard said in her video was "factually accurate." 

Treason can be punishable by death, according to U.S. House code.

Gabbard's lawyer also writes: "Representative Gabbard's loyalty to the United States is beyond reproach. You knew your claims of treason were false, or, at a minimum, you made your claims of treason with reckless disregard for the truth." 

Biolabs in Ukraine are the focus of a conspiracy theory that alleges the Biden administration was funding biological weapon labs in the country now under attack from Russia. The U.S. has funded biolabs in Ukraine, though not for the development of biological weapons.

Gabbard did not allege that the U.S. was funding bioweapons labs in Ukraine. She later argued that biolabs, biological weapons labs and bioweapons are "very different things" and that there can be "miscommunication and misunderstanding when discussing them.

The letter, which Gabbard discussed Wednesday on Carlson's nightly show, demands that Romney "retract/takedown all such statements you have made about Representative Gabbard and destroy all copies of those statements" in addition to entering into a settlement with Gabbard should he with to avoid a possible court case.

Following his tweet, Gabbard called for Romney to resign from the Senate.

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