House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) lambasted Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Thursday, accusing the long-shot Democratic presidential contender of promoting racism and conspiracy theories — and being a pawn in the Republican effort to topple President Biden.
“Why would you give Robert F. Kennedy Jr. a congressional platform to spew his hatred? Here’s the answer: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a living, breathing false-flag operation,” Jeffries said. “His whole campaign is being run by right-wing political operatives who have one objective: try to take down President Joe Biden.”
At the invitation of Republicans, Kennedy testified Thursday before a special House committee examining the GOP’s long-running allegations that the federal government has abused its powers by censoring conservative voices.
Kennedy, a member of the iconic Democratic dynasty, has stirred a firestorm of controversy in recent years for pushing a host of baseless assertions, including claims that COVID-19 vaccines are harmful, prescription drugs cause mass shootings, wireless internet induces cancer and waterborne chemicals spawn transgenderism in kids.
Some of the comments led several social media companies to ban him from the platform or remove specific content, leading to Republican accusations of politically biased censorship.
“They have kept him from speaking — a collusion between the government and private organizations,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said during the hearing.
Most recently Kennedy provoked an outcry when he suggested COVID-19 was created to spare certain groups of people — the Chinese and Ashkenazi Jews.
The remarks sparked an outcry from Democrats, who accused Kennedy of advancing racist and antisemitic tropes and bashed Republicans for welcoming him to Capitol Hill this week — the same week House GOP leaders fast-tracked a resolution condemning antisemitism in response to explosive remarks from a liberal Democrat.
“The notion that Republicans would give a congressional platform to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who peddles antisemitic tropes and baseless, xenophobic conspiracy theories — which together are directed at the Jewish community, and the Chinese American community — is unbelievable,” Jeffries said. “Which is why you can’t take our Republican colleagues seriously when they tell you they believe in tolerance.”
Kennedy defended himself from the charges during Thursday’s hearing, accusing his Democratic critics of twisting his words and defaming his reputation at the expense of his campaign.
“I’ve never been anti-vax, I have never told the public to avoid vaccination,” he said. “I believe vaccines should be tested with the same rigor as other medicines and medications.”
Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of John F. Kennedy, has generated a significant following since announcing his presidential bid in April, but remains far behind Biden in the Democratic primary. A survey conducted last month by Quinnipiac University found Biden leading Kennedy among Democratic-leaning voters by a margin of 53 percentage points.