ICYMI: RFK Jr.’s distorted account of evidence he provided in a cousin’s case

Today, in a new fact check, The Washington Post further analyzes how RFK Jr. falsely accused two innocent men of color of murdering a white woman to exonerate his white cousin who was convicted of the crime. The Washington Post found that RFK Jr. “distorts the story” in his response including in “significant ways.” 

This fact check follows new reporting from TheGrio, and comes days after RFK Jr. doubled down on his racist rhetoric, tried to justify his past actions, and showed no remorse for ruining two innocent men’s lives in an interview with Tasha K.  

Washington Post: RFK Jr.’s distorted account of evidence he provided in a cousin’s case

By: Glenn Kessler 

  • RFK Jr. accused two innocent men, one Black and one of mixed race, of committing a murder when they were teenagers.” — Jaime Harrison, Democratic National Committee chair, in a video posted on social media, June 6
  • Kennedy responded that the DNC had offered a “dishonest distortion of this story.” Harrison offers opinion in his commentary — “racism here couldn’t be more bleak” — but his factual description of the Skakel case holds up. It’s Kennedy who distorts the story in his response, in both small and significant ways.
  • Kennedy said he was “convinced” the murderers were Adolph Hasbrouck, 15 at the time of the killing, and Burton “Burr” Tinsley, also 15. “Adolph, a volatile teen from the South Bronx, was African American, six foot three inches tall, and 200 pounds,” Kennedy wrote.
  • As part of his research, Kennedy also interviewed Hasbrouck — who told him he was not in Belle Haven on the night of the murder — and Tinsley. Kennedy concluded in his book that there were inconsistencies in their stories.
  • Kennedy testified in the 2007 retrial proceeding and, according to a transcript obtained by The Fact Checker, he acknowledged that multiple people he spoke to had no recollection of Hasbrouck and Tinsley being in the neighborhood on the night of Moxley’s murder. Kennedy acknowledged to the prosecutor that he had told a witness that Hasbrouck’s life “seems too normal and mainstream” for Bryant’s story to add up and that “this story is not right.”
  • “It was a lily White community in a lily White county,” Lawrence Schoenbach, an attorney who represented Hasbrouck when the accusations by Bryant and Kennedy first emerged, said in an interview, speaking on Hasbrouck’s behalf. […] “Not a soul there saw anyone Black that night. He would have stood out like a sore thumb.”
  • “ … two men, one black and one white …” This is misleading, possibly in an attempt to show his accusation was not intended to single out people of color or show a preoccupation with tropes connecting race and crime. Kennedy previously has described Tinsley as Asian or mixed race, not White. In his book, he said the FBI crime lab found two hairs on a forensic sheet used to cover Moxley’s body — one “possessing Negroid characteristics” and the other possibly having “an Asian DNA profile.”
  • “The two men confessed repeatedly to Bryant and a third man that they had committed the crime.” This is almost certainly false. […] In his book, Kennedy disputes several instances of witnesses claiming that Skakel confessed to the murder, such as an alleged statement that ‘‘I am going to get away with murder; I am a Kennedy.”