Donald Trump on Tuesday tapped Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a leading promoter of the debunked theory that vaccination can lead to autism, to lead a commission on vaccine safety and science.
After a meeting at Trump Tower, Kennedy told transition reporters that “President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policy.”
“He asked me to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity,” he continued. “I said I would.”
Both men have publicly argued that vaccinating children can lead to autism, though the few studies that supported this theory have been thoroughly discredited by the medical community.
Trump once made the case that “tiny children are not horses” and should not receive “massive injections” of vaccines simultaneously. He has said he has personally seen “totally magnificent children” develop “horrible autism” as a result, though he denies he has a blanket opposition to vaccination.
No more massive injections. Tiny children are not horses—one vaccine at a time, over time.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2014
I’m not against vaccinations for your children, I’m against them in 1 massive dose.Spread them out over a period of time & autism will drop!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2014
The President-elect shared this stance on the campaign trail, and met with Andrew Wakefield, the discredited researcher who launched the anti-vaccine movement, over the summer.
Kennedy, son of the former U.S. senator, attorney general and presidential candidate, has been a vocal advocate of the theory that thimerosal, a mercury-based compound once widely contained in childhood vaccines, causes autism. Those findings have been debunked by medical institutions including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Like Trump, Kennedy says he does not oppose vaccination on principle and that he had all six of his children fully vaccinated.
During the presidential race, Kennedy told Vanity Fair that Trump was a “dangerous,” “deceptive” “demagogue” who waged a “campaign of hatred.”