With the first Republican primate debate taking place this week, the campaign of Vivek Ramaswamy, who has seen a bump in the polls in recent months, is embroiled in a scandal over what the GOP candidate believes about 9/11 and the January 6 insurrection.
The whirlwind began on Monday, when The Atlantic published an in-depth profile of Mr Ramaswamy, a wealthy biotech and financial investor.
The piece featured a lengthy discussion of both attacks, with the Republican articulating that he had doubts about aspects of the official narrative surrounding each event, and claiming that a “high” percentage of those in the crowd that stormed the Capitol were in fact armed undercover law enforcement officers.
“I think it is legitimate to say, how many police, how many federal agents were on the planes that hit the Twin Towers? Like, I think we want — maybe the answer is zero, probably is zero for all I know, right? I have no reason to think it was anything other than zero. But if we’re doing a comprehensive assessment of what happened on 9/11, we have a 9/11 commission, absolutely that should be an answer the public knows the answer to. Well, if we’re doing a January 6 commission, absolutely, those should be questions that we should get to the bottom of,” the magazine quoted him as saying.
“Here are the people who were armed. Here are the people who were unarmed. What percentage of the people who were armed were federal law-enforcement officers? I think it was probably high, actually. Right?”
The piece later quoted him seeming to backtrack, while still suggesting he had questions about 9/11: “I mean, I would take the truth about 9/11. I mean, I am not questioning what we — this is not something I’m staking anything out on,” he added. “But I want the truth about 9/11.”
The GOP candidate later claimed he was being misquoted by The Atlantic, telling Semafor that the excerpt in the profile “wasn’t exactly what I said,” and claiming in a contentious interview on CNN that the profile featured claims he hadn’t made but were “put in my mouth” by the author.
The outrage from the Republican hopeful prompted The Atlantic to release both a text-based and audio version of the full transcript of the conversation between reporter John Hendrickson and Mr Ramaswamy.
The transcripts show that the candidate’s comments had been accurately reproduced.
The full transcript also features Mr Ramaswamy saying 9/11 and January 6 don’t “belong in the same conversation.”
“I’m only bringing it up because it was … I am not making the comparison,” he told the reporter. “I think it’s a ridiculous comparison.”
Nonetheless, a spokesperson for his campaign told CNN that his comments were taken out of context.
“We are grateful that the Atlantic released the audio after we repeatedly asked them to do so. The audio clearly demonstrates that Vivek was taken badly out of context and even this small snippet proves that. We continue to encourage the Atlantic to release more of the recording, rather than their carefully selected snippet, so that full context and reality is exposed.”
In a statement to the network, The Atlantic said it stood by its story.
“As is clear from the audio and transcript, the quotes in the piece are accurate.”
The media dustup is the latest bit of drama ahead of the Republican debates on Wednesday.
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