Robert F. Kennedy Jr. expresses doubts about Jan. 6 attack prosecutions, says he wants to hear ‘every side’

In a lengthy statement released Friday, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. suggested that the prosecution of rioters who violently attacked the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, could be politically motivated, aligning himself with the false portrayal promoted by former President Donald Trump and his allies.

The statement came a day after Kennedy faced criticism for a fundraising email that portrayed the rioters as “activists” who had been “stripped of their constitutional liberties.”

While Kennedy’s campaign said it had terminated relations with the contractor who sent the fundraising email, his most recent message had a similar tone. Rather than dismissing the notion that the rioters are being punished unfairly, Kennedy has welcomed it, stating that he is “concerned about the possibility that political objectives motivated the vigor of the prosecution of the J6 defendants.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. expresses doubts about Jan. 6 attack prosecutions, says he wants to hear ‘every side’

When it came to the events on January 6, Kennedy stated, “I want to hear every side.”

In his comments, Kennedy partially criticizes Trump, stating the attack on the Capitol occurred with his “encouragement” and “in the context of his delusion that the election was stolen from him.” However, Kennedy stated that as president, he would appoint a special counsel to investigate if Trump loyalists were unfairly targeted for prosecution, “and I will right any wrongs that we discover.”

Trump frequently refers to those convicted in the January 6 attack as “hostages” and has pledged to pardon them if he retakes the White House.

In his remarks, Kennedy also makes the misleading allegation that the rioters did not have guns. Some members of the mob brought firearms, and one was recently accused of firing a shot into the air during the violence. Other rioters used flagpoles, a crutch, a hockey stick, a lacrosse stick, pepper spray, and a PVC pipe to assault officers.

The violence on January 6 was extensive. The mob of Trump fans broke past police lines, engaged in hand-to-hand battle with policemen, destroyed windows, and spilled into the Capitol building, driving politicians into shelter.

A makeshift gallows was photographed outside the Capitol on the day of the attack, and some people screamed “Hang Mike Pence.” Rioters stormed the corridors, crying out, “Where are you, Nancy?” in reference to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Police officers were injured and bloodied after being pulled into the mob and abused. One officer was crushed in a doorframe, while another had a heart attack after a rioter pushed a stun gun on his neck and shocked him repeatedly.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. expresses doubts about Jan. 6 attack prosecutions, says he wants to hear ‘every side’

Over 1,300 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol incident, with over 500 of them accused of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers. Approximately 1,000 people have pled guilty or been convicted by a court or jury of charges such as seditious conspiracy, assault, and civil unrest. Only two offenders have been acquitted of all charges following a trial, both by judges who ruled without a jury.

According to an examination of court records by the Associated Press, at least 229 of the more than 800 rioters condemned have received at least one year in prison. The leaders of two far-right extremist groups, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, have received the heaviest terms thus far. They were convicted of seditious conspiracy following trials that revealed weeks of preparing to use force to prevent the transition of presidential power from Trump to Biden.

The judges supervising the cases in Washington’s federal court have repeatedly stated that the rioters are being punished for their behavior, not their political convictions. Judges appointed to the bench by presidents of both political parties have attempted to use their platforms to counter misinformation about the attack and to chastise rioters for portraying themselves as victims of political persecution.

Special counsels are appointed by the attorney general, not the president, according to Justice Department standards. Special counsels have generally been appointed to investigate crimes, such as those involving Trump, rather than to question Justice Department leadership decisions.

Kennedy portrayed Trump, who is facing dozens of charges in four jurisdictions for various alleged crimes, as a victim of a politically motivated government, echoing both the former president’s own description of the charges as corrupt and Republican congressional claims that federal agencies are “weaponized” against conservatives.

“One can, as I do, oppose Donald Trump and all he stands for, and still be disturbed by the weaponization of government against him,” he stated.

Kennedy is a lawyer and activist who advocates for environmental reasons while dismissing the scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and beneficial. He has a strong base of support among those who distrust the government and other institutions in American life, including as the media, political parties, and corporations.

Democrats and their left-wing supporters have rallied against Kennedy, the descendant of famous Democrats from the most recognizable political dynasty in the United States, fearing that he will split the anti-Trump coalition and help Trump win in November.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. expresses doubts about Jan. 6 attack prosecutions, says he wants to hear ‘every side’

“There aren’t two sides to violent rioters who assaulted police officers and tried to overthrow our democracy,” said Matt Corridoni, a Democratic National Committee spokesperson. “Time and again, RFK Jr. has proven he’s a spoiler for Donald Trump, whether it’s having his candidacy propped up by Trump’s largest donor or providing cover for Trump by downplaying the seriousness of January 6th.”

Allies of the former president are also concerned about the impact of Kennedy’s campaign, as many of his conspiratorial views are similar to Trump’s.

Long before he ran for president, Kennedy was affiliated with those who contributed to the turmoil on January 6 and the greater movement disseminating the idea that Trump’s election was stolen. Ty and Charlene Bollinger, anti-vaccine business owners with a financial tie with Kennedy, hosted a demonstration near the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, as did Del Bigtree, Kennedy’s campaign staffer.

In the months following the attack, Kennedy was a featured speaker at the ReAwaken America tour, a Christian nationalist roadshow led by former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, where speakers repeatedly promoted the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and Trump is the rightful president. Kennedy was spotted backstage with Flynn, Charlene Bollinger, and Roger Stone, a close Trump supporter.

Kennedy has also featured on InfoWars, the channel headed by Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who attended the gathering before the Capitol attack and marched up the Capitol steps on January 6.

Children’s Health Defense, the anti-vaccine group Kennedy led for years, is currently suing several news organizations, including The Associated Press, alleging antitrust violations by taking action to identify misinformation, including about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines. The Bollingers are also involved in the litigation, and Kennedy is mentioned as one of the lawyers.

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