Anti-Vaccine Activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Says Trump Asked Him to Chair Commission on Vaccine Safety

RFK arriving at Trump Tower. Photo via AP

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an activist who’s pushed the debunked theory that vaccines cause autism for a very long time, says Donald Trump has asked him to chair a commission on vaccine safety. This isn’t like asking the fox to guard the henhouse; it’s more like asking someone to redesign the henhouse after they’ve told you they don’t think henhouses strictly need to exist.

Kennedy is, yes, one of those Kennedys, and a longtime environmental activist. But in the past few years he’s also pushed the idea that thimerosal, a preservative in vaccines, is responsible for increased autism rates. The CDC has repeatedly debunked that claim (which is only reassuring if you believe the CDC, which the anti-vaccine fringe does not). That makes him a nice match for Trump, who’s said explicitly and repeatedly that he believes vaccines cause autism.


NBC reports that after a meeting at Trump Tower Tuesday, RFK told reporters he’s accepted an offer to “chair a commission on vaccination safety and scientific integrity.”

Vaccines are a longtime obsession for Trump; here are a few of the dozens of times he’s tweeted that they cause autism:


Thimerosal doesn’t cause autism and neither does the CDC’s recommended vaccine schedule (you can read a brief, layman’s explanation of why here). (Update, 3:15: Also, thimerosal was phased out of almost all childhood vaccines by 2001, even though there’s no evidence that it’s unsafe. The CDC did that as a “precautionary measure,” they have said, to make certain that people didn’t let that fear dissuade them from vaccinating their kids.)

Kennedy drew intense criticism last year for calling vaccines a “holocaust.” As the Sacramento Bee reported at the time, he was speaking at a screening of the anti-vaccine film Trace Amounts when he made the comparison:

“They get the shot, that night they have a fever of a hundred and three, they go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone,” Kennedy said. “This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country.”

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About the author

Anna Merlan

Anna Merlan was a Senior Reporter at G/O Media until September 2019. She's the author of Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power.

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