Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Sunday hosted a convicted child sex predator on his podcast to defend Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Kennedy's guest was Scott Ritter, a former United Nations weapons inspector who served jail time in 2011 after exposing himself to a cop posing as a 15-year-old girl. The sex pest was brought on to discuss "Putin's Wagner Crisis" as the leader of a Russian mercenary group turned against the authoritarian leader. Ritter has predicted that Putin "will go down in history as one of the greatest leaders of all time."
The podcast episode comes as Kennedy has been surging in the polls as voters grow weary of the prospect of a second term for President Joe Biden, who will turn 81 later this year. Nearly two-thirds of Democratic voters say they would consider backing Kennedy over Biden, according to a recent CNN survey.
During the show, Ritter slammed the Russian mercenary leader who turned against Putin, Yevgeny Prigozhin, calling him "a traitor" who "stabbed Russia in the back."
Ritter and Kennedy also speculated that the CIA could be behind the Russian coup attempt.
"I believe that eventually they're going to show that [Prigozhin] was influenced by foreign powers to carry out a coup d'état designed to collapse the government of Vladimir Putin," Ritter said. Kennedy responded that there was "chatter on the internet that the CIA was behind this insurrection as a regime change, but, you know, who knows whether it's true or not."
Ritter, who during the Iraq war gained fame as an outspoken critic of the Bush administration, is a controversial figure due to his criminal history and his strong support for the Putin regime. In 2009, Ritter was arrested after masturbating on a webcam in front of a police officer posing as a 15-year-old girl. He served jail time for the incident and was required to register as a sex offender.
Prior to that conviction, he was also arrested in 2001 for arranging meetings with undercover officers posing as minors online.
Ritter, who recently completed a month-long propaganda tour of Russia, has claimed that Putin "will go down in history as one of the greatest leaders of all time."
Earlier this year, Ritter dropped out as a speaker at the Libertarian Party anti-war rally after uproar over his attendance, the Washington Free Beacon reported. The Quincy Institute, an isolationist think tank, in 2021 also pulled an article he wrote for its website.
Ritter has also been embraced by many libertarian and anti-war activists on both the right and left. Former Fox News host Andrew Napolitano and Russian defector Tara Reade—known for accusing Biden of sexual assault—urged the Libertarian Party to keep Ritter on as a speaker. Ritter also spoke last year at a conference hosted by former Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul.