Thursday, June 20, 2024

RFK Jr. Says CNN "Illegally" Kept Him Out Of Debate, Biden & Trump Acted "Undemocratic, un-American and Cowardly"


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in Brooklyn on May 1. Photo by Jason Schott.

CNN announced on Thursday, not surprisingly, that their June 27 debate will be a head-to-head matchup between Presidents Biden and Trump, keeping Independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. off the stage. 

The Kennedy campaign asserts that this “decision is a clear violation of federal law.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said in a statement, “Presidents Biden and Trump do not want me on the debate stage and CNN illegally agreed to their demand. My exclusion by Presidents Biden and Trump from the debate is undemocratic, un-American, and cowardly. Americans want an independent leader who will break apart the two-party duopoly. They want a President who will heal the divide, restore the middle class, unwind the war machine, and end the chronic disease epidemic.”

CNN published a debate criteria requiring that “a candidate's name must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold.” 

However, the Kennedy campaign asserts that CNN is holding only their candidate to this requirement, and not requiring Presidents Biden and Trump to meet this requirement by claiming they are each the “presumptive nominee” of a political party. 

CNN has dug in on this approach even after FEC made clear the phrase “presumptive nominee” is “not in the FEC’s debate regulation,” and that means CNN cannot be exempted from the prohibition on excessive campaign contributions. 

The Commission on Presidential Debates says that, “Until the conventions take place, we don’t know who the official nominees will be.” 

The Kennedy campaign makes this assertion: "This means CNN, and every member of CNN who is participating in planning, executing, and holding this debate, is at risk of prosecution, as happened to Michael Cohen, for violating campaign finance laws. This risk is now acute given that any further violation would be knowing and willful, and thus could carry with it serious jail time. 

"CNN and its staff are on clear notice, especially given the damning evidence that the Biden campaign has openly demanded Kennedy be excluded from the debates and Trump received assurances from CNN that Kennedy would be excluded. 

"To come into compliance, CNN must apply its criteria objectively. Presidents Biden and Trump have not yet been nominated by their parties and their names are not certified to appear on a single state ballot. Kennedy, in contrast, has been certified to appear on the ballot in nine states - Mississippi Utah, Michigan, California, Delaware, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Texas, and South Carolina.

The ticket, in which Kennedy is running with Nicole Shanahan as his Vice Presidential nominee, has also collected enough signatures for ballot access in 14 states - New York, New Jersey, Nebraska,Florida, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Idaho, Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio, Tennessee and Alaska.

In all, the Kennedy-Shanahan campaign has collected the signatures needed for ballot access in 23 states totaling 310 electoral votes - 58 percent of the 538 total electoral votes nationwide.  

"Objectively applying CNN’s criteria requires, at a minimum, that it admit Kennedy into the debate as he is the candidate who is furthest along in complying with CNN’s debate criteria."

Former Governor of Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee said in a statement, “If the American people could hear what all three candidates had to say about the critical issues facing our country, the choice between these three men would be clear,” said. “Kennedy would become the 47th President of the United States.”

Kennedy has filed an FEC complaint accusing CNN, Biden, and Trump of flagrantly violating a federal law requirement that media broadcasters use “pre-established” and “objective” criteria to determine candidate participation. Failure to use objective criteria renders the debate a campaign contribution, subject to strict donation limits. 

If this debate goes forward without Kennedy, his campaign intends to pursue this issue for as long as it takes to obtain justice against what it calls "illegal acts, if for no other reason than to ensure this type of undemocratic and un-American conduct does not occur again in the future."

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