Hillary Clinton can apparently just refuse to accept a lawsuit

A little over a week ago, Ed Morrissey wrote about the lawsuit brought by Tulsi Gabbard against Hillary Clinton. Gabbard is accusing the former Secretary of State of defamation because she referred to her as a “Russian asset.” At the time, Ed declared that the suit was legally dead in the water and would go nowhere.

That remains to be seen, and I might quibble about that conclusion in a moment, but Ed’s prediction is looking more prescient this morning for an entirely different reason. In order for the lawsuit to go anywhere, it needs to get started first. And the first step in such a procedure is usually serving papers to the person being accused, informing them that the proceeding is getting underway. That’s turning out to be more difficult than Gabbard’s attorneys likely expected because Clinton has simply refused to accept the documents and used her Secret Service detail to thwart the person trying to serve her. (NY Post)

Hillary Clinton has now twice snubbed a process server attempting to deliver the defamation lawsuit filed against her by Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, according to Gabbard’s attorney.

“I find it rather unbelievable that Hillary Clinton is so intimidated by Tulsi Gabbard that she won’t accept service of process,” the congresswoman’s attorney, Brian Dunne, told The Post. “But I guess here we are.”

Dunne said their process server first attempted to effect service at the Clinton’s house in Chappaqua Tuesday afternoon — but was turned away by Secret Service agents.

After Clinton’s taxpayer-funded muscle sent the process server packing, they were told to take the papers to Clinton’s own attorney, David Kendall. But when they attempted to go that route, Kendall informed them that he was “unable to accept service on Clinton’s behalf.”

Hold on… can she just do that? According to the rules of the road in New York, you can’t force someone to receive the physical delivery of such papers, but that’s not going to stop the process. If the process server is denied personal delivery, they can either deliver them to another person known to the accused or they can be left in “a conspicuous location” where the courts would agree that the subject was likely to see them. In either case, copies of the papers must also be sent to the subject by mail. Either will be acceptable to the courts and the proceedings can begin.

So one way or the other, unless Gabbard’s attorneys are complete idiots, they should be able to move forward to the next phase of the process. But does this suit have a chance of being successful?

I agree with Ed that the actual lawsuit and demand of $50 million isn’t really what this is all about. While I have no doubt Gabbard would gladly take the money if she won, what she’s really looking for right now is headlines and a name recognition bump in the Democratic primary. That may backfire on her, however. While Clinton’s star has definitely lost some of its shine and most Democrats don’t care to see her run for President again, she’s still a popular and sympathetic figure in her party. Seeing Tulsi Gabbard going after her in this fashion may not play well among some primary voters.

Let’s get back to the actual merits of the lawsuit. In order to prevail, Gabbard would have to convince the court that Clinton acted with actual malice to defame her. That means proving that Clinton either knew with certainty that her claim of Gabbard being a Russian asset was false or, at a minimum, that she spoke with “reckless disregard” for the truth.

While many defamation suits against public figures wind up going down in flames, this one could at least potentially have some legs. Proving a negative is impossible, but the idea that a sitting member of Congress is literally working in league with the Russians should require some proof. And doing or saying things that might deliver a result that could potentially be pleasing to Vladimir Putin (such as increasing the chances that Donald Trump wins a second term), is not the same as being a literal asset to Russia and working on their behalf. It’s a very serious charge and a damning allegation.

So if you ask me, this defamation lawsuit is far from dead in the water. I’m not saying Gabbard will definitely prevail, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.