The Washington Post

Podesta apologizes for calling GOP ‘a cult worthy of Jonestown’

John Podesta, then president and chief executive of the Center for American Progress, attends the National Italian American Foundation Gala in Washington in October 2011. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

John Podesta, the former top Clinton administration aide who is joining the White House as a special adviser, apologized Wednesday for a comment in which he compared the Republican Party to a cult that assassinated a congressman.

A new Politico profile quotes Podesta as likening the GOP to "a cult worthy of Jonestown" — a reference to an ambush by cult members more than three decades ago that killed Rep. Leo J. Ryan (D-Calif.) and seriously injured a top aide, now-Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).

Earlier Wednesday, a Boehner (R-Ohio) spokesman noted the quote and said it speaks volumes about Podesta's hiring.

“If this is the attitude of the new White House, it’s hard to see how the president gets anything done again," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck told Roll Call.

The four assassins who killed Ryan and shot Speier in 1978 were sent by the Rev. Jim Jones, who formed a communist community in Guyana, the site of the tragedy. Jones killed himself the same day after ordering more than 900 of his followers to commit ritual suicide.


Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.



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Aaron Blake · December 18, 2013

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