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Politics

Vaccine Skeptic RFK Jr. Claims He’s Been Asked to Chair Commission on the Subject, Trump Camp Denies It

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Evan Vucci/AP

Depending on who you ask, President-elect Donald Trump either did or did not ask Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Tuesday to chair a commission on vaccine safety.

The move would be notable since the son of Robert F. Kennedy has been a staunch disbeliever in vaccines.

Kennedy, 62, told press in the lobby of Trump Tower that he had accepted an offer from Trump, after attending a meeting at the president-elect’s request. But the Trump camp told CNN that “no decisions have been made at this time.”

Speaking to reports after the meeting, the environmental activist said he wanted “to make sure we have scientific integrity in the vaccine process for efficacy and safety effects” going forward as chairman of the commission.

“President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies and he has questions about it,” Kennedy continued. “His opinion doesn’t matter but the science does matter and we ought to be reading the science and we ought to be debating the science.”

Despite promoting a documentary film linking autism to the vaccine preservative thimerosal and criticizing public health officials who argue against the claim, Kennedy said he and Trump were very “pro-vaccine.”

The national spokeswoman for MoveOn.org, Karine Jean-Pierre, released a statement on the possible hiring, saying, “It is deeply troubling that Donald Trump has nominated Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to this position given Kennedy’s history of espousing fringe anti-science views on the subject of vaccines,” the statement read. “This nomination will put children at grave risk if Kennedy continues to elevate debunked myths over proven science.”

Jean-Pierre continued, adding that it was “troubling” to see Kennedy “betraying his father and uncles’ legacy by seeking to enter this foul swamp of an administration overflowing with greed, bigotry, and corruption.”

Trump touched on the subject of childhood vaccinations during his 2016 campaign, telling audience members at a CNN primary debate in 2015 that he is in favor of “smaller doses [of vaccines] over a longer period of time” because autism might be a possible side effect, according to CNN.

“Autism has become an epidemic. … It has gotten totally out of control. I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time,” he said.