RFK Jr. campaign says Jan. 6 ‘activists’ have been ‘stripped of their Constitutional liberties’

WASHINGTON — The campaign of independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is out with a fundraising email referring to Jan. 6 defendants as “activists” who have been “stripped of their Constitutional liberties,” echoing former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about the 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

In the appeal sent to supporters Thursday signed by “Team Kennedy,” the campaign called for the exoneration of “political prisoner Julian Assange,” the founder of WikiLeaks, suggesting he and Jan. 6 defendants are victims of prosecutorial abuse.

“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,” the fundraising email read.

A British court is currently considering whether to extradite Assange — who is an Australian, not American citizen — to the United States. Snowden, the former National Security Agency employee who leaked national security secrets, is living in exile in Russia.

Trump has called some of his supporters who stormed the Capitol because they believed his lies about the 2020 presidential election “hostages“ and “unbelievable patriots” who have been mistreated by the justice system.

As NBC News reported, there are just 15 Jan. 6 defendants who are currently being held in pretrial detention.

Most of them are credibly accused of violence against law enforcement officials. For example:

  • Two have killed other people in the past, which factored into their detention.
  • One is charged with setting off an explosive in a tunnel full of police officers.
  • One is charged with firing a weapon.
  • One is charged with conspiring to kill the FBI employees who worked on his case, a plot that allegedly unfolded after his initial pretrial release.

Most of the 29 Jan. 6 defendants currently being held in the D.C. jail have been convicted. Some are awaiting sentencing, others have been sentenced but have not yet been assigned to a federal prison to serve out their time.

More than 1,350 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack, and prosecutors have secured more than 950 convictions. Low-level Jan. 6 defendants routinely receive sentences of probation, but about 500 have been sentenced to periods of incarceration that have ranged from a few days behind bars to 22 years in federal prison, for a Proud Boy convicted of seditious conspiracy.

In an interview last month with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, Kennedy said that if elected president he would use his pardon power “very quickly” to pardon Assange and Snowden, but said he would “look at individual cases” when asked about Jan. 6 defendants.

The Kennedy campaign did not immediately provide comment.

Last year, Kennedy told The Washington Post he would consider pardoning Jan. 6 defendants.

“If prosecutorial malfeasance is demonstrated, then yes. Otherwise, no,” he said.

Earlier this week, he said on CNN that he could argue President Joe Biden is a bigger threat to democracy than Trump because of how he has allegedly censored political critics, though he later said those comments were taken out of context and that Trump and Biden are both problematic.

“I didn’t say definitively whether I believed one or the other was more dangerous for democracy, I did say that I don’t believe either of them are going to destroy democracy,” he said in an interview on News Nation Tuesday.

“You have one president who allegedly hasn’t been convicted, but allegedly was trying to overthrow an election illegally, which of course, is horrible for democracy,” Kennedy said of Trump before turning to Biden. “You had another president who actually is has censored speech.”

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