Jul 20, 2023 - Politics & Policy

RFK Jr. goes on defensive against congressional Democrats

RFK Jr. goes on defensive against congressional Democrats

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. before the start of a hearing with the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on Capitol Hill on July 20. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has mounted a long-shot presidential campaign against President Biden, defended himself Thursday against accusations of antisemitism and racism during a House subcommittee hearing on censorship.

The big picture: Kennedy's defense comes after remarks surfaced over the weekend where he said that "there is an argument that [COVID-19] is ethnically targeted" and it "attacks certain races disproportionately."

  • Kennedy, who has a long track record of spreading misinformation about vaccines, said Thursday that he is "subjected to this new form of censorship, which is called targeted propaganda, where people apply pejoratives like 'anti-vax.' I've never been anti-vaccine."
  • "But everybody in this room probably believes that I have been because that's the prevailing narrative," he said during opening remarks before the GOP-led Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.
  • He also defended his recent remarks and said: "The First Amendment was not written for easy speech."

Kennedy's long-shot presidential campaign has been elevated by some Republicans who are hopeful that it could undermine Biden's re-elect campaign.

Democratic lawmakers denounced Kennedy's most recent remarks about COVID, and more than 100 signed a letter earlier this week urging House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan to disinvite him from speaking.

  • "Mr. Kennedy has repeatedly and recently spread vile and dangerous antisemitic and anti-Asian conspiracy theories that tarnish his credibility as a witness and must not be legitimized with his appearance before the U.S. Congress nor given the platform of an official committee hearing to spread his baseless and discriminatory views," the letter said.

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