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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. questions prosecutions for Jan. 6 assault, says he needs to listen to ‘each facet’


Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in a prolonged assertion April 5 steered that the prosecution of January 6 rioters is likely to be politically motivated, partly aligning himself with the portrayal being pushed by former President Donald Trump and his allies.

The assertion got here a day after Mr. Kennedy got here underneath fireplace for a fundraising e-mail that painted a sympathetic portrait of the rioters as “activists” who have been “stripped of their constitutional liberties.”

While Mr. Kennedy’s marketing campaign stated it had severed ties with a contractor who despatched the fundraising e-mail, his newest assertion struck an analogous tone. Rather than disavowing the concept that the rioters have been being prosecuted unjustly, Mr. Kennedy has embraced it, saying he’s “concerned about the possibility that political objectives motivated the vigour of the prosecution of the J6 defendants.” He stated, “I want to hear every side.”

Mr. Kennedy in his assertion partially criticize Mr. Trump — saying the assault on the Capitol occurred together with his “encouragement” and “in the context of his delusion that the election was stolen from him.” Yet he said as president he would appoint a special counsel to look into whether Trump allies were unfairly singled out for prosecution, “and I will right any wrongs that we discover.”

Mr. Trump routinely calls those convicted for the Jan. 6 attack “hostages” and has promised to pardon them if he wins back the White House.

Mr. Kennedy, in his statement, also claims falsely that the rioters did not carry weapons. Some members of the mob carried guns and one was recently charged with firing a shot into the air during the riot. Other rioters used things like flagpoles, a crutch, a hockey stick, a lacrosse stick, pepper spray and a PVC pipe to attack officers.

He later retracted that claim with a statement issued on April 5, saying: “My understanding that none of the January 6 rioters who invaded the capitol were carrying firearms was incorrect. Several have been convicted of carrying firearms into the Capitol building. Others assaulted Capitol police with pepper spray, bludgeons, and other makeshift weapons. “This behaviour is inexcusable,” he added. “I’ve by no means minimised or dismissed the seriousness of the riot or any crime dedicated on that day.”

About 1,000 have pleaded responsible or been convicted

More than 1,300 folks have been charged within the assault on the Capitol, together with roughly 500 folks accused of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers. About 1,000 have pleaded responsible or been convicted by a choose or a jury of crimes together with seditious conspiracy, assault and civil dysfunction. Only two defendants have been cleared of all fees after a trial, each by judges who determined the case with out a jury.

Of the greater than 800 rioters who’ve been sentenced, at the very least 229 have acquired at the very least one yr behind bars, based on an Associated Press evaluation of court docket information. The longest sentences thus far have gone to the leaders of two far-right extremist teams — the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys — who have been convicted of seditious conspiracy after trials that showcased weeks of plotting to make use of drive to cease the switch of presidential energy from Trump to Biden.

Judges overseeing the instances in Washington’s federal court docket have routinely careworn that the rioters have been punished for his or her actions, not their political opinions. Judges appointed to the bench by presidents of each political events have sought to make use of their platforms to fight distortions in regards to the assault and admonish rioters for casting themselves as victims of political persecution.

Under Justice Department guidelines, the legal professional normal — not the president — appoints particular counsels. And particular counsels have traditionally been appointed to research crimes, like within the instances towards Trump, to not second-guess decision-making by Justice Department management.

RFK Jr. is a spoiler for Donald Trump, say Democrats

Mr. Kennedy portrayed Mr. Trump, who faces dozens of fees in 4 jurisdictions for numerous alleged crimes, as a sufferer of a politically motivated authorities, echoing each the previous president’s characterization of the costs as corrupt and claims from Republicans in Congress that federal businesses are “weaponized” towards 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 said.

Mr. Kennedy is a lawyer and activist known for fighting for environmental causes and rejecting the scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and effective. He has a fervent base of support among voters distrustful of the government and other institutions in American life, including the media, political parties and corporations.

Democrats and their allies on the left have mobilized against Mr. Kennedy, the descendent of prominent Democrats from the most recognizable dynasty in U.S. politics, who they worry will split the anti-Trump coalition and help Mr. Trump to victory in November.

“There aren’t two sides to violent rioters who assaulted police officers and tried to overthrow our democracy,” stated Matt Corridoni, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee. “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 previous president additionally fear in regards to the impact of Mr. Kennedy’s candidacy as a result of a lot of his views are carefully aligned with Mr. Trump.

Long earlier than he was operating for president, Mr. Kennedy was related to individuals who performed an element within the chaos of Jan. 6 and the bigger motion spreading the falsehood that the election was stolen from Trump. Anti-vaccine enterprise homeowners Ty and Charlene Bollinger, who the AP has beforehand reported have had a monetary relationship with Mr. Kennedy, have been concerned in internet hosting a rally close to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, as was Kennedy’s marketing campaign staffer, Del Bigtree.

In the months after the assault, Mr. Kennedy was a top-billed speaker on the ReAwaken America tour, a Christian nationalist roadshow led by former Trump nationwide safety adviser Michael Flynn, the place audio system persistently push the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and Trump is the rightful president. Mr. Kennedy was photographed backstage with Mr. Flynn, Charlene Bollinger and Roger Stone, a detailed Trump ally.

Kennedy has additionally appeared on InfoWars, the channel run by Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who attended the rally that preceded the Capitol assault, and himself marched up the steps of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The anti-vaccine group Mr. Kennedy led for years, Children’s Health Defense, has a lawsuit pending towards a number of information organizations, amongst them The Associated Press, accusing them of violating antitrust legal guidelines by taking motion to establish misinformation, together with about Covid-19 and Covid-19 vaccines. The Bollingers are additionally a part of that lawsuit and Kennedy is listed as considered one of its legal professionals.

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