RFK Jr. defends controversial comments in divisive House hearing

Published: Jul. 20, 2023 at 4:37 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A Democratic presidential candidate testified before Congress Thursday. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. went under oath before a controversial House panel Thursday to talk about the so-called ‘weaponization’ of the federal government.

Republicans invited three panelists to talk about what they consider to be censorship from the federal government. The invitation of Kennedy drew sharp criticism from Democrats.

“I’m appalled and just so troubled by colleagues I have to work with,” said Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-U.S.V.I).

Each side of the aisle took shots at the other, but Plaskett was incensed the committee gave a platform to Kennedy, who was recently caught on camera saying COVID was created to target Caucasians and black people, while sparing Asian and Jewish people.

“Hateful, abusive rhetoric does not need to be promoted in the halls of the People’s House,” said Plaskett.

Republicans came to the defense of Kennedy, who became a prominent voice in the anti-COVID-19 vaccine movement.

“They do not want him to speak, yet that is the topic of this hearing. They have kept him from speaking,” said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kent.).

Republicans argue social media companies are trying to silence conservatives and others with controversial views. They claim the government is working with these companies to censor content, in the name of stopping the spread of misinformation.

“A government that can censor its critics has license for every atrocity. It is the beginning of totalitarianism,” Kennedy told the committee.

Thursday morning, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who chairs the committee, and Senator Rand Paul (R-Kent.) introduced a bill called the Free Speech Protection Act. They say the bill would prohibit federal employees and contractors from censoring or attacking speech protected by the first amendment. It’s unclear what support it will have in either chamber.