RFK Jr. Says Excluding Him From Debate Is Illegal And CNN Staff Could Be Jailed

RFK Jr. Says Excluding Him From Debate Is Illegal And CNN Staff Could Be Jailed

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said it was “undemocratic, un-American and cowardly” for CNN to announce, as it did Thursday, that he had not made the cut to join President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump in next week’s debate.

Kennedy said in a statement Thursday that it was illegal for CNN to exclude him.

“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,” Kennedy was quoted as saying in a statement released by his campaign. “This risk is now acute given that any further violation would be knowing and willful, and thus could carry with it serious jail time.”

Asked for comment, a CNN representative directed HuffPost to its reporting detailing the event’s requirements, which were first laid out in mid-May.

Kennedy did not meet the requirements because he had not received at least 15% support in at least four different qualifying polls and has fallen far short of securing his name on enough state ballots to ensure it would be possible for him to earn 270 electoral college votes — the amount needed to win the presidency.

Trump and Biden are expected to square off at 9 p.m. EDT June 27 on the debate stage.

“Presidents Biden and Trump do not want me on the debate stage and CNN illegally agreed to their demand,” Kennedy said in the statement.

He added: “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.”

Kennedy is a known conspiracy theorist who has spent many yearsspreading fear and distrust of vaccines, including the false idea that vaccines cause autism.

So far, his name appears on the ballot in Delaware, Michigan, Oklahoma and Utah, with likely appearances in California and Hawaii, according to a Washington Post survey of all 50 states. That amounts to 100 electoral votes.

Kennedy’s campaign argues that CNN is being unfair by holding him to the ballot requirements but “not requiring Presidents Biden and Trump to meet this requirement by claiming they are each the ‘presumptive nominee’ of a political party.”

Biden and Trump are the presumptive nominees of their parties, however, and are expected to appear on ballots nationwide. They also dominate presidential polling.

The Kennedy campaign said it plans to “pursue this issue for as long as it takes to obtain justice against these illegal acts.” His campaign filed a complaint on May 28 with the Federal Election Commission.