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RFK Jr. Channels Trump On January 6 Rioters In Bonkers E-mail—Then Walks It Back, Of Course

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. walked back an e-mail in which he referred to the January 6 rioters as 'activists' who were 'stripped of their Constitutional liberties.'

Robert F. Kennedy; Rioters attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images; Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was criticized for channeling former President Donald Trump's by comparing defendants charged in connection with the January 6 insurrection to whistleblowers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

The email, sent out by "Team Kennedy," characterized the Jan. 6 defendants as "activists … stripped of their Constitutional liberties":

“This is the reality that every American Citizen faces — from Ed Snowden, to Julian Assange to the J6 activists sitting in a Washington DC jail cell stripped of their Constitutional liberties."
"Please help our campaign call out the illiberal actions of our very own government.”

However, the comments were swiftly retracted, with Kennedy's spokesperson attributing the language to an "error" made by a new marketing contractor:

“That statement was an error that does not reflect Mr. Kennedy’s views. It was inserted by a new marketing contractor and slipped through the normal approval process.”

The email's initial sentiment echoed Trump's repeated characterization of those involved in the insurrection as "patriots" and his criticism of prosecutorial efforts against them. Notably, Trump has hinted at the possibility of pardoning individuals charged in connection with the events of January 6.

Despite Kennedy's attempt to distance himself from the initial email, questions remain about his campaign's messaging and alignment with Trump's rhetoric regarding the Capitol rioters.

Kennedy was harshly criticized as many drew comparisons between his email and Trump's rhetoric.

While only a fraction of those charged in connection with the insurrection remain in custody, the severity of their alleged offenses varies, with some accused of assaulting police officers and others facing charges related to weapons possession and violent acts.

Public opinion remains divided, with a significant portion of Americans viewing the events of Jan. 6 as an attack on democracy, while the constant drum beat from Trump and right-wing media casting rioters as victims, has led many Republicans to embrace the rioters.

Kennedy's controversial email followed another statement where he positioned President Joe Biden as a greater threat to democracy than Trump. He cited Biden's alleged suppression of political speech, referencing his own removal from Instagram in 2021 for anti-vaccination views during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kennedy's stance drew ire, particularly as he minimized Trump's actions in contesting the 2020 election results, saying “the greatest threat to democracy is not someone who questions election returns." However, he contradicted himself when he said in the same interview that Trump's actions are “appalling" and themselves "a threat to democracy.”