Analysis by CNN Editor Chris Cillizza

Tulsi Gabbard ran for president in 2020 as a Democrat. Which makes what she’s been saying and doing lately all the stranger.

1) As Russia invaded Ukraine last week, Gabbard sent this staunchly pro-Russian tweet“This war and this suffering could have been easily avoided had the Biden Admin/NATO simply acknowledged Russia’s legitimate security concerns regarding Ukraine’s NATO membership, which would mean that US/NATO forces are right on the Russian border.”

2) During the weekend, Gabbard spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference — not exactly common ground for most Democrats. “They are hypocrites,” Gabbard said of his party leaders in the speech. “They proclaim that we must go to war to spread democracy and freedom as they actively work to undermine our democratic republic and our freedoms right here at home.”

You will remember that in 2019, Hillary Clinton said this of Gabbard“I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on someone who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third party candidate. She’s the Russians’ favourite.”

Gabbard sued Clinton for defamation in 2020; she dropped the costume later that year. “While they remain certain of the legal merits of the action, they are equally certain that this new COVID and post-COVID world forces them to focus their time and attention on other priorities, including defeating Donald Trump in 2020, rather than righting the wrongs here.”, his lawyers said of the move.

Now, to be clear, none of Gabbard’s recent actions mean that Gabbard is (or was) some kind of Russian factory. But, they raise questions about Gabbard’s true motives toward Russia — and more generally in American foreign policy and politics.

These questions have been asked since Gabbard launched a long-running bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. In October 2019, The New York Times ran a piece captioned: “What exactly does Tulsi Gabbard do?”, which noted:

“On podcasts and online videos, in interviews and Twitter feeds, internet stars from the alt-right, white nationalists, libertarian activists and some of Mr. Trump’s biggest supporters are praising of Mrs. Gabbard.”

Gabbard has been a regular guest on Tucker Carlson’s Fox show lately, raising questions about why Ukraine should join NATO and why the US would support it.

“I find it hard to see how President Biden or anyone can say with an honest face, ‘we stand for democracy,'” Gabbard told Carlson at the beginning of February.

Gabbard also suggested that President Joe Biden should meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin has said for years that his security concerns are about NATO approaching and increasingly encircling Russia from all sides,” Gabbard said. in an interview with the New York Post after his speech at CPAC. “The Biden administration has failed to explain to the American people how this serves your best interests? What will the costs be?”

It’s unclear what Gabbard’s endgame is here. If she wants to run for office again as a Democrat, her recent decisions mean very little. Following her decision to speak to CPAC, local Democrats voted to convict her. And given Hawaii’s strong Democratic leanings in general, there’s very little chance of an electoral future in the state for a candidate who positions himself as Gabbard.

Maybe she’s fishing for a Fox News gig. Or maybe a party change is in his near future?

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