- President Donald Trump, at a press conference on Monday, defended Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old supporter charged with double homicide in connection with the killing of two men in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
- "That was an interesting situation," Trump said. "He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like, and he fell, and then they very violently attacked him."
- Trump did not mention that, prior to the scene he described, authorities say Rittenhouse had already shot and killed another person, according to a criminal complaint filed on Friday.
- Rittenhouse was charged with first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide, and attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
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President Donald Trump refused to condemn the actions of a 17-year-old supporter who has been charged with double homicide in connection with the killings of two men last week in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
"That was an interesting situation," Trump said at a press conference on Monday, regarding the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse. "He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like, and he fell, and then they very violently attacked him."
Trump did not mention that, prior to the scene he described, Rittenhouse — a vigilante who crossed state lines to patrol the streets of Kenosha amid protests and unrest in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake — had already shot and killed another person: Joseph Rosenbaum, showing "utter disregard for human life," according to a criminal complaint the state of Wisconsin filed last Friday.
An autopsy revealed that Rosenbaum was shot multiple times, including in the back, fracturing his pelvis and perforating his right lung and liver. He also had gunshot wounds to his thigh and forehead.
Rittenhouse has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and attempted first-degree intentional homicide, among other charges.
Rittenhouse's attorney has claimed the shootings were in self-defense, but the criminal complaint says video of the incident that police reviewed showed the victim "appears to be unarmed."
The complaint says that after the first shooting, Rittenhouse, who was carrying an assault weapon, tried to flee, prompting a chase, during which he fell and then shot two men, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz, killing the former and severely wounding the latter.
"He was in very big trouble," Trump claimed. "He probably would have been killed. It's under investigation."
But according to the criminal complaint, and video of the incident that law enforcement reviewed, Huber was not attempting to kill anyone; rather, he "appears to be trying to pull the gun away from the defendant."
According to an autopsy, Huber died of a "gunshot wound to his chest that perforated his heart."
Biden immediately condemned Trump's comments
Former Vice President Joe Biden, in a statement, condemned Trump's comments.
"Tonight, the president declined to rebuke violence," Biden said. "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."
Initially, Trump's reelection campaign sought to distance the president from Rittenhouse, who attended a January 2020 rally for the president, as BuzzFeed News first reported.
"President Trump has repeatedly and consistently condemned all forms of violence," a spokesperson said on Wednesday — despite the president encouraging violence against protesters and hecklers at his campaign rallies. "This individual had nothing to do with our campaign, and we fully support our fantastic law enforcement for their swift action in this case."
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