Long before a jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse, then-President Donald Trump was pushing back against the tide of condemnation against him.
Rittenhouse was found not guilty of homicide and all other charges Friday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the shootings of three men during a riot in Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020. The 18-year-old maintained he fired in self-defense, and the jury apparently saw it the same way.
During the news conference, Trump was asked, “Are you going to condemn the actions of vigilantes like Kyle Rittenhouse?”
Trump’s comments foreshadowed what would be presented at Rittenhouse’s trial — that if the teenager had not defended himself, he likely would have been a casualty of the violent demonstrations that formed the flaming backdrop to the night Rittenhouse shot and killed two men while wounding another.
“We’re looking at all of it. That was an interesting situation. You saw the same tape as I saw,” Trump said in response.
“He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like, and he fell. And then they very violently attacked him, and it was something that we’re looking at right now, and it’s under investigation,” he said.
“But I guess he was in very big trouble. He would’ve been — he probably would’ve been killed, but it’s under, it’s under investigation,” Trump said.
For those comments, Trump received a scolding from the Post, which wrote, “Instead of denouncing lawlessness, Trump presented an excuse for it — and, implicitly, encouragement of it.”
During that same news conference, Trump noted that it was leftists who were endangering Americans.
“In America, we will never surrender to mob rule because if the mob rules, democracy is indeed dead. The reason we’re continuing to see violence in left-wing cities today is that liberal politicians, mayors, prosecutors, and judges are refusing to enforce the law and put the rioters in jail,” Trump said then, according to a transcript.
President Joe Biden, unlike Trump, painted Rittenhouse as a white supremacist in a campaign ad — a reference Judge Bruce Schroeder pointedly told the jury to ignore as deliberations in the trial began.
There’s no other way to put it: the President of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night. pic.twitter.com/Q3VZTW1vUV
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 30, 2020
The political overtones of the Rittenhouse trial were noted during the trial by defense attorney Mark Richards, according to the Kenosha News.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a political case,” Richards said. “The District Attorney’s Office is marching forward with this case because they need someone to be responsible.”
In an email to supporters issued Friday, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attacked the “corporate media, Big Tech, and the Democratic Party” for trying to convict Rittenhouse “in the court of public opinion,” according to The Washington Post.
“These institutions worked together to ruin the life of a 17-year-old who was merely defending himself from violent attacks amid Democrat-enabled rioting, looting and arson,” DeSantis wrote.
“This case should never have been brought in the first place,” the governor said.
“Unfortunately, this is the foreseeable product when you have poorly run Democratic cities that have entirely abandoned the concept of law and order, and a corporate press that gaslights people into believing that rioters are the good guys and the protectors are the bad guys.”
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