RFK Jr. Wants To 'Hear Every Side' About Jan. 6 Attack On U.S. Capitol

The independent presidential candidate known for espousing conspiracy theories continues to minimize the violent Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
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Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Friday suggested that the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol wasn’t a “true insurrection,” expressed concern for the “harsh treatment” of those charged over their participation in the attack, and blamed “both establishment parties” for capitalizing on the incident on the campaign trail.

The statement followed controversy over a fundraising email his campaign sent this week that referred to Jan. 6 defendants as “activists” who have been “stripped of their Constitutional liberties,” as reported by NBC News. His campaign later said that the message was an “error” and blamed a new contractor.

In his latest statement, which contained multiple falsehoods about the Capitol attack, Kennedy called it “one of the most polarizing topics on the political landscape” and said that he was listening to “diverse viewpoints” to “make sense of the event and what followed.”

“I want to hear every side,” he said about the well-documented event that occurred more than three years ago, when a mob of Donald Trump supporters sought to violently overturn his loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. They chanted for Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, to be hanged as they stormed the Capitol and injured more than 100 police officers, one of whom later died as a result.

“I have not examined the evidence in detail, but reasonable people, including Trump opponents, tell me there is little evidence of a true insurrection,” he continued. “They observe that the protestors carried no weapons, had no plans or ability to seize the reins of government, and that Trump himself had urged them to protest ‘peacefully.’”

Multiple Trump supporters carried dangerous weapons on Jan. 6, including firearms, stun guns, knives, whips, hatchets and pepper spray. Meanwhile, Trump watched the riot from his Oval Office television, refusing to help even as members of his own party pleaded with him to intervene. As the attack was underway, he doubled down on social media, complaining that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” by blocking Biden’s victory in Congress. Trump’s aides had to plead with him to tell the rioters to go home hours after the attack began.

Michael Fanone, a retired D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officer who was beaten with a flagpole and shocked with a stun gun several times while defending the Capitol, slammed Kennedy over his comments.

“It sounds like RFK Jr. is the only person in America who did not watch a violent and armed mob attack our Capitol on January 6, 2021,” Fanone said in a statement to HuffPost. “There’s no ‘two sides’ to this, only one: the truth. Anyone who lies about the scale or violence of January 6 is clearly unfit for office.”

Much of Kennedy’s statement hewed closely to Trump’s own remarks about those involved in Jan. 6. The former president and presumptive GOP presidential nominee has repeatedly assailed prosecutorial efforts against him as a “weaponization” of the justice system and called those charged in the attack “patriots,” vowing to pardon many of them on his first day back in office.

“Like many reasonable Americans,” Kennedy said Friday, “I am concerned about the possibility that political objectives motivated the vigor of the prosecution of the J6 defendants, their long sentences, and their harsh treatment.” If elected president, he vowed to appoint a special counsel “to investigate whether prosecutorial discretion was abused for political ends in this case, and I will right any wrongs that we discover.”

“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 said.

He also blamed both major political parties for “using J6 to pour fuel on the fire of America’s divisions.”

“Each side claims that a victory by their opponents means the end of democracy. Then, anything is justified to stop them,” he added. “We run the risk of destroying democracy in order to save it.”

Earlier this week Kennedy claimed that Biden is perhaps a bigger threat to democracy than Trump, with the independent candidate citing his bans from social media during Biden’s tenure — something that the president’s administration had nothing to do with. Kennedy was banned by Instagram for advancing disproven claims around vaccines, a topic that he’s often espoused conspiracy theories about.

“Trying to overthrow the election clearly is a threat to democracy,” Kennedy said Monday on CNN. “But the question was, who is a worse threat to democracy? And what I would say is … I’m not going to answer that question. But I can argue that President Biden is because the First Amendment ... is the most important.”

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