Apr 5, 2024 - Politics & Policy

RFK Jr. wants to "hear every side" on Jan. 6

 Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. visits "Fox & Friends" at Fox News Channel Studios on April 02, 2024 in New York City.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. visits "Fox & Friends" at Fox News Channel Studios on April 2 in New York City. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. issued a lengthy statement Friday on the Jan. 6 Capitol riot a day after his campaign distanced themselves from a fundraising email describing Jan. 6. defendants as "activists."

Why it matters: Kennedy, who has minimized the severity of Jan. 6, must strike a delicate balance to siphon voters from former President Trump and President Biden ahead of November.

  • Jan. 6 was "one of the most polarizing topics on the political landscape," RFK Jr.'s statement Friday said.
  • Kennedy's campaign spokesperson, Stefanie Spear, told CNN Thursday that the fundraising appeal "was an error that does not reflect Mr. Kennedy's views."
  • It had said Jan. 6 defendants were "stripped of their constitutional liberties" — messaging that aligns with Trump, who has called Jan. 6 rioters "unbelievable patriots."

Driving the news: "I am listening to people of diverse viewpoints on it in order to make sense of the event and what followed. I want to hear every side," Kennedy said in the Friday statement.

  • He said that "reasonable people, including Trump opponents, tell me there is little evidence of a true insurrection."
  • He said that if elected he would "appoint a special counsel" that would "investigate whether prosecutorial discretion was abused for political ends in this case."

The Democratic National Committee, which has launched an effort to counter Kennedy's third-party bid, slammed him for using "hundreds of words to both-sides the January 6th insurrection."

  • "There aren't two sides to violent rioters who assaulted police officers and tried to overthrow our democracy," DNC Spokesperson Matt Corridoni said in a statement.

Between the lines: Kennedy in the statement also said that "reasonable people" have told him that the "protestors carried no weapons."

  • More than 1,300 people have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Five police officers died in connection with the attack.

Zoom in: Kennedy, a vocal critic of vaccines, has embraced a range of conspiracy theories, arguing that debunking his false claims amounts to censorship, which has become a bedrock principle of his campaign.

  • He earlier this week said Biden poses a greater threat to democracy than Trump, focusing his argument on the Biden administration working with social media platforms to curtail misinformation during the pandemic.
  • Biden has made protecting democracy central to his re-election bid, casting the former president as a fundamental threat to the nation.

Go deeper: Conservative media sours on RFK Jr. as an independent

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