President Donald Trump defended the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, saying the 17-year-old ‘probably would have been killed’ by an angry mob if he hadn’t fired at them with the illegal gun he was carrying.
‘He was trying to get away from them I guess, it looks like, and he fell on then they very violently attacked him,’ Trump said in response to a question from The GAG on Monday.
‘It was something that we are looking at right now and it’s under investigation, but I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would’ve been killed. It’s under investigation,’ he added during his press briefing.
Rittenhouse is charged with two counts of ‘intentional homicide,’ a charge in Wisconsin state law which is the same as murder in most other states, for his actions in Kenosha that left two people dead and one wounded.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden condemned President Trump’s words.
‘The President declined to rebuke violence,’ he said in a statement after Trump’s press conference.
‘He wouldn’t even repudiate one of his supporters who is charged with murder because of his attacks on others. He is too weak, too scared of the hatred he has stirred to put an end to it. So once again, I urge the President to join me in saying that while peaceful protest is a right — a necessity — violence is wrong, period. No matter who does it, no matter what political affiliation they have. Period,’ he added.
President Trump heads to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday as the city remains a tinderhouse of tensions – those who want justice for Jacob Blake, those who want Rittenhouse prosecuted, and those defending the actions of the police when it comes to both men: one black, one white.
Trump visit with law enforcement officials after the shooting of Blake sparked riots throughout the city. Blake, a black man, was shot seven times in the back by a white cop in front of his three young children Sunday afternoon, leaving the father-of-six paralyzed from the waist down.
Kenosha remains under a 7 p.m. curfew with more than 1,500 National Guard members on the scene.
But the incident and ensuring demonstrations prompted self-styled militia men to take to the streets with their own weapons because they don’t trust the police to keep the city safe.
Among those vigilantes on Tuesday night was 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, a white teenager who’d come from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to patrol the streets with an AR-15. It is illegal for someone under 18 to openly carry a weapon in Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse was part of a group of armed civilians protecting a service station in Kenosha. There was a scuffle between them and the protesters. Shots were fired and 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum falls to the ground with a gunshot wound to the head that would be fatal.
Video posted on social media shows a man whom police believe to be Rittenhouse make a call on a cellphone and say: ‘I just shot someone.’
He flees and is pursued by many protesters, at least one of whom is armed with a handgun. Rittenhouse falls to the ground and the crowd rushes in to seize his weapon.
He was hit over the head by protester Anthony Huber, 26, who had a skateboard and wanted to disarm him.
Rittenhouse then starts firing into the group and ended up killing Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz.
He was not arrested until the following day, back in Illinois, despite approaching police with his hands in the air while other protesters yelled that he’d just shot multiple people.
He is in custody in Illinois. A judge will decide at a hearing on Sept. 25 whether Rittenhouse will be extradited to Wisconsin, where he would be tried as an adult. He faces six felony charges that include first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide, and a misdemeanor charge for possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor.
Rittenhouse’s attorney Lin Wood said the 17-year-old vigilante was ‘attacked’ with ‘lethal force’ and ‘had the right to defend himself.’
The president also refused to condemn vigilantes when pressed on the self-styled militia by The GAG.
‘I think everything should be taken care of with law enforcement but we have to give our cops back, our police back their dignity,’ he said.
He defended the actions of police, saying sometimes they make a mistake – ‘they choke’ – and that decision gets played over and over again on the evening news.
‘You have bad cops – we have to take care of them. In other cases, they choke,’ he said. ‘They have a quarter of a second to make a decision and sometimes they make the wrong decision. They make the wrong decision, you know if they make a wrong decision and the other direction, they’re probably dead so they choke and that goes on the evening news for weeks.’
‘They are very tough on bad cops but sometimes, a cop or a police person who was a good police person, right? Good. But they choke,’ he added. ‘They have a quarter of a second to make some of these decisions and they make the wrong decision that is very devastating but I will say this, I honor law enforcement. We wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for law enforcement.’
Meanwhile, outrage has built nationwide over the different treatment by cops of Rittenhouse, the white armed teen compared to their treatment of black unarmed Blake.
Trump said he was going to Kenosha on Tuesday despite pleas from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin that he stay away. Evers warned it could heighten tensions and increase violence in the town of 100,000 which has seen its ranks swell with supporters of the Black Lives Matters movement and armed civilian vigilantes.
‘It will also increase enthusiasm and it could increase love and respect for our country, and that’s why I am going because they did a fantastic job,’ Trump said at his press briefing on Monday.
Evers, a Democrat, said Sunday in a letter to President Trump that he is not welcome in Kenosha.
He urged him to reconsider his trip, writing: ‘I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state.’
Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, also a Democrat, also asked Trump not to come.
‘While presidents are always welcome to come to this great city, this is not the best time for a visit,’ Antaramian said in a statement Sunday. ‘We are hurting today and we are focused on healing, coming together as a community and rebuilding. There is a lot of listening we need to do in Kenosha and I worry that a visit from the president will delay this important work.’