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Kennedy campaign blames vendor for email sympathetic to Jan. 6 insurrectionists

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. ‘s presidential campaign on Thursday terminated a contract with a vendor it blamed for sending a fundraising email that referred to people facing charges for the Jan. 6 insurrection as “activists” who were “stripped of their constitutional liberties.”

The language in the email echoed former President Donald Trump, who has worked to rewrite the history of the effort to disrupt the violent attack on the Capitol as lawmakers prepared to certify President Joe Biden ‘s 2020 victory. Trump has vowed to pardon the rioters and made the attack a cornerstone of his campaign.

“That statement was an error that does not reflect Mr. Kennedy’s views,” Kennedy spokesperson Stefanie Spear said in a statement. “It was inserted by a new marketing contractor and slipped through the normal approval process. The campaign has terminated its contract with this vendor.”

The campaign declined to release the name of the contractor.

The fundraising pitch was sent Thursday with the subject “We Must Free Assange!” It called for the release of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, as the U.S. seeks extradition on charges related to his organization’s publication of a huge trove of classified documents. He has been in custody in a high-security London prison since 2019, and previously spent seven years in self-exile in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

A British court ruled last week that Assange can’t be extradited unless the U.S. provides stronger assurances that he won’t face the death penalty.

“The Brits want to make sure our government doesn’t kill Assange,” Kennedy’s fundraising email said. “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.”

Kennedy enraged Democrats this week when he argued that Biden is a bigger threat to democracy than Trump, again echoing a Trump campaign narrative.

“I can make the argument that President Biden is the much worse threat to democracy, and the reason for that is President Biden is the first candidate in history – the first president in history that has used the federal agencies to censor political speech, so to censor his opponent,” Kennedy said in a CNN interview.

Kennedy is seeking ballot access for his independent presidential campaign, hoping his famous last name and anti-establishment views could help him overcome the exceedingly long odds against third-party presidential candidates. He’s built a fierce following among Americans who feel unheard by the two major parties. His candidacy has worried both Biden and Trump boosters amid uncertainty about how he could affect the race.

So far, only Utah has formally recognized Kennedy’s place on the ballot. He says he’s collected enough signatures to qualify in several other states, including the swing states of Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and North Carolina, but that has not been confirmed by elections officials.

Jonathan J. Cooper, The Associated Press

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