House Republicans, Democrats Sound Off After Contentious Government Weaponization Hearing With RFK Jr.

House Republicans saw testimony at a congressional hearing on Thursday as evidence that the federal government has engaged in political censorship. Meanwhile, Democrats at the hearing pushed back on the censorship allegations and focused much of their criticism on one of the four witnesses who testified—Democratic 2024 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Mr. Kennedy testified, alongside journalist Emma Jo-Morris, about their experience of having their content suppressed on different social media platforms at the encouragement of federal government actors in an alleged pattern of censorship by proxy. Louisiana Special Assistant Attorney General D. John Sauer, who has been involved in suing federal government offices over their alleged censorship-by-proxy practices, also testified. Maya Wiley, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, also testified at the Thursday hearing.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said the testimony he heard raised concerns that certain political candidates will be prevented from communicating with the public.

“This administration, and the people who’ve been there, frankly before this administration took office, they’re just hostile to free speech. And they’ve instituted ways that they think are getting around the law, but they’re unconstitutional. Their ways of censoring speech, they lean on private companies because they know the government itself cannot do it constitutionally,” Mr. Massie told NTD after the hearing. “But I would argue that constructively, by doing those things, leaning on private institutions to censor, they are violating the Constitution. And I am worried that we’re going to have a hard time in this election cycle for everybody to get their message out.”

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) shared similar censorship concerns, noting recent court cases that have challenged the federal government’s alleged censorship-by-proxy practices. On July 4, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction against President Joe Biden’s White House and other offices in his administration, as a result of their alleged involvement in encouraging social media companies to remove certain content.

“[Censorship has] happened with the online platforms. It’s happened through a number of federal agencies. And it’s not just Republicans on the House floor saying that; these are federal courts now that are looking at the evidence,” Mr. Johnson told NTD. “So it’s irrefutable, and I think it’s alarming to many people.”

Hearing Like ‘SNL Skit’ But Not Funny: House Democrat

In the days leading up to the Thursday hearing, Democratic lawmakers and their political allies called for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the chair of the Republican-controlled House government weaponization subcommittee, to disinvite Mr. Kennedy over controversial remarks he made last week about the differences in how COVID-19 impacted certain ethnic groups.

A video clip captured at a July 11 campaign event showed Mr. Kennedy saying that with “COVID-19, there’s an argument that it is ethnically targeted.”

“COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately,” Mr. Kennedy went on in the July 11 clip, before describing how different ethnic groups have differences in the structure of their ACE2 receptors, which bind with SARS‑CoV‑2 and lead to COVID-19 infections. “COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese,” Mr. Kennedy said. “We don’t know whether it was deliberately targeted or not but there are papers out there that show the racial or ethnic differential and impact of that.”

Mr. Kennedy’s remarks drew criticism after the New York Post published an article based on Mr. Kennedy’s remarks with the headline “RFK Jr. says COVID may have been ‘ethnically targeted’ to spare Jews.” The Post article went on to say that Mr. Kennedy’s remark “echoes well-worn anti-Semitic literature blaming Jews for the emergence and spread of coronavirus which began circulating online shortly after the pandemic broke out, according to The Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at the University of Tel Aviv’s 2021 Antisemitism Worldwide Report.”

Mr. Kennedy criticized the Post’s characterization of his remarks and said he was describing a 2021 study, which was published on the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed site, titled “New insights into genetic susceptibility of COVID-19.”

Republicans rejected the calls to disinvite Mr. Kennedy from testifying, but as the hearing began on Thursday, Democrats once again attempted to block his testimony by limiting his speaking time and by ending the hearing altogether.

Rep. Gerry Connelly (D-Va.) told NTD the hearing shouldn’t have even been held in the first place.

“Franky, if you videotape this hearing, it could be a Saturday Night Live skit,” the Democratic congressman said. “Except it’s not funny.”

Republicans Criticize Efforts to Block RFK Jr. at Censorship Hearing

Many in the Republican majority on the congressional subcommittee criticized their Democratic counterparts for impeding Mr. Kennedy’s testimony during a hearing about the topic of government censorship.

“Our country needs to have a conversation. But that conversation can’t happen—as Robert Kennedy Jr. pointed out—if you censor both sides. We’re too polarized,” Mr. Massie told NTD.

“I think it’s really ironic that this hearing on censorship began with an effort from the Democrats, they made a formal motion to keep Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from testifying. I mean, the cognitive dissonance of that is deafening,” Mr. Massie added.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said that while he may not agree with something someone says, they should still have the right to say it without being “deplatformed” and accused of being hateful and antisemitic, as Mr. Kennedy’s opponents did with him.

“Thomas Jefferson said, ‘For here we are not afraid to seek truth wherever it may lead,’ right?” Mr. Roy said. “When are we going to get back to that?”

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