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RFK Jr.’s team warns ‘serious jail time’ for CNN’s Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, others over debate snub


CNN was put “on clear notice” by the presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. after he didn’t meet the requirements to make it to the June 27 debate to be hosted by the network.

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will be the only contenders on the debate stage next week as Kennedy failed to meet all of the requirements to qualify. The Independent presidential candidate only met CNN’s polling threshold of 15% in three out of four approved national polls as the “debate qualification window” closed at midnight.

Kennedy also failed to hit the mark in CNN’s ballot criteria of making enough state ballots to win 270 electoral votes, instead being  “officially on the ballot in only six states — California, Delaware, Hawaii, Michigan, Oklahoma and Utah — totaling 89 Electoral College votes,” according to The New York Times. The 90-minute debate to be held in Atlanta will be hosted by CNN anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash who were threatened, along with other CNN staff, by the Kennedy campaign of facing “serious jail time” over the rules.

Kennedy filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over the network’s debate rules and said its “decision is a clear violation of federal law.” He accused CNN of having “colluded” with Biden and Trump to keep him off the debate stage, as they “collectively” engaged in “flagrant” violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act.

The complaint was addressed to Lisa J. Stevenson, the FEC’s acting General Counsel and claimed the debate was scheduled “with criteria that were designed to result in the selection of certain pre-chosen participants, namely Biden and Trump, in a clear breach of federal campaign finance law,”

“CNN is making prohibited corporate contributions to both campaigns and the Biden committee and the Trump committee have accepted these prohibited corporate contributions,” Kennedy attorney Lorenzo Holloway said in the complaint.

“The law in virtually every state provides that the nominee of a state-recognized political party will be allowed ballot access without petitioning, ” a CNN spokesperson responded in a statement.

“As the presumptive nominees of their parties both Biden and Trump will satisfy this requirement,” the network spokesperson added. “As an independent candidate, under applicable laws RFK, Jr. does not.

“The mere application for ballot access does not guarantee that he will appear on the ballot in any state. In addition, RFK, Jr. does not currently meet our polling criteria, which, like the other objective criteria, were set before issuing invitations to the debate,” the statement added.

In a press release by the Kennedy campaign the candidate called his exclusion from the debate “undemocratic, un-American, and cowardly.”

Asserting that the phrase “presumptive nominee” is “not in the FEC’s debate regulation,” the campaign cited the Commission on Presidential Debates which stated: “Until the conventions take place, we don’t know who the official nominees will be.”

“This means CNN, and every member of CNN who is participating in planning, executing, and holding this debate, is at risk of prosecution,” the campaign warned. “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,” the press release continued.

“If the debate goes forward without Mr. Kennedy, the Kennedy campaign intends to pursue this issue for as long as it takes to obtain justice against these 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,” it concluded.

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