RFK Jr. hires GOP operative who called Jan. 6 ‘Democrat misdirection’

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential campaign has hired a former top spokesperson to hard-right Republican candidates who has called the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol “Democrat misdirection.”

Campaign finance records show Kennedy’s independent campaign first hired Zach Henry’s firm Total Virality for “influencer engagement” in March, two months after Republican Vivek Ramaswamy dropped out of the race for his party’s presidential nomination. Henry had been Ramaswamy’s deputy communications director.

“J6 was no MAGA insurrection Just more Democrat misdirection,” he posted on X in March 2023, seemingly embracing the conspiracy theory that the riot was provoked by left-wing antifa agitators, not Donald Trump supporters.

“Mentally readying myself for the ‘I’m having traumatic Jan 6 flashbacks’ from cringe congressional staffers tomorrow,” Henry posted in 2022 ahead of the annual anti-abortion-rights demonstration in Washington.

Just over a week later, he called the House committee investigation into the attack a “witch hunt of patriots” that “must face a reckoning.”

In other posts, he expressed opposition to vaccine mandates and wrote, “Alex Jones is a national treasure,” referring to the preeminent conspiracy broadcaster. 

Henry declined to comment, while the Kennedy campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Kennedy’s hire of Henry comes as he has had difficulties attracting experienced political operators from either major party to work for his independent campaign. Henry represents a rare defection from the world of professional politics to the outsider candidate.

And the people Kennedy has been able to hire have created some recent headaches for his campaign by going off-message — including on Jan. 6.

Earlier this month, Kennedy’s campaign disowned a fundraising email that lamented how “J6 activists” were “sitting in a Washington DC jail cell stripped of their Constitutional liberties.” Kennedy’s campaign said the email was sent in “error” by a “marketing contractor.”

But subsequent Kennedy statements contained other errors he was forced to address, and the controversy drew attention to his own views on Jan. 6. Kennedy has questioned “harsh treatment” of Jan. 6 defendants, said he would consider pardoning some and questioned whether it was a true “insurrection.”

Kennedy also said he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the treatment of those charged with crimes in connection with Jan. 6.

Both parties have stepped up attacks on Kennedy, fearing he will cost them the election by siphoning votes from their candidate. 

Trump and his allies have increasingly been casting Kennedy as a far-left radical environmentalist, hoping to lock down voters who might be attracted to the populist conspiracy theories both embrace.

But Democrats have been especially aggressive against Kennedy, portraying the ex-Democrat as a stalking horse for Trump and citing his support from some major conservative donors, among other issues, including his rhetoric regarding Jan. 6.

Earlier this month, the Kennedy campaign fired a New York-based Republican consultant after video emerged of her urging GOP voters to consider Kennedy by saying they shared “the No. 1 priority” of stopping President Joe Biden. 

Henry is part of a young breed of online conservative activists who have seen their stock rise in the GOP alongside online influencers and publicity stunts designed to “trigger” opponents. 

On Ramaswamy’s campaign, he traveled frequently with the candidate and helped manage supportive online influencers, including off-color comedians and controversial YouTubers.

Before his time with Ramaswamy, Henry served as communications director for Blake Masters’ 2022 Senate campaign in Arizona and as a spokesperson for the Arizona GOP and its controversial former chairwoman, Kelli Ward, who was recently among the “fake electors” indicted in Arizona on charges alleging fraud, forgery and conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results.

All three are libertarian-tinged conservative culture warriors who love to provoke the left. Henry’s recent social media posts express support for Kennedy and disappointment in Trump for embracing the Covid-19 vaccines developed during his presidency.

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