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 DailyMail.com 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.
President Donald Trump heads to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday
President Trump defended the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, 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.
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 to visit with law enforcement officials after the shooting of Jacob 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.
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, who’d come from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to patrol the streets with an illegal AR-15.
He tripped and fell while running in the street then was hit over the head by protester Anthony Huber, who had a skateboard and wanted to disarm him.
Rittenhouse, in response, opened fire and ended up killing Huber, Joseph Rosenbaum, and injuring a third.
He was not arrested until the following day, despite approaching police with his hands in the air while other protesters yelled that he’d just shot multiple people. He also reportedly called a friend to tell them ‘I’ve killed someone’.
He is in custody in Illinois and faces extradition to Wisconsin later this month. He faces five 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.’
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was patrolling the streets with an AR-15. He fell over, was hit with a skateboard by other protesters who tried to disarm him, and opened fire, wounding one person and killing two. He is now being held on murder charges
Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back in front of his three kids despite being unarmed
The president also refused to condemn vigilantes when pressed on the self-styled militia by DailyMail.com.
‘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 the white armed teen compared to their treatment of black unarmed man Jacob 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, is hoping the president will not stop by his riot-torn city on Tuesday.
‘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.’
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers sent a letter Sunday to Trump claiming the president is not welcome in Kenosha after the White House announced plans Saturday for a visit to the city. ‘I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state,’ he wrote in the letter
‘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,’ Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian said in a statement Sunday
Trump, meanwhile, has insisted his actions ‘saved’ the city of Kenosha.
‘If I didn’t INSIST on having the National Guard activate and go into Kenosha, Wisconsin, there would be no Kenosha right now. Also, there would have been great death and injury. I want to thank Law Enforcement and the National Guard. I will see you on Tuesday!,’ he tweeted on Monday morning.
But he will not meet with the family of Jacob Blake, saying he refused to speak to them after they wanted their lawyer involved. The Blakes are represented by attorney Ben Crump, who also represented the family of George Floyd.
Trump did say he’s spoken with the Blake family pastor.
‘I thought it would be better not to do anything where there are lawyers involved,’ he said Monday at his press briefing. ‘In they wanted to have lawyers involved and I thought that was inappropriate so I didn’t do that, but I did speak with the pastor.’
Jacob Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, told CNN that the family didn’t want to meet with the president because he’s a ‘racist.’
‘President Trump is a racist who stokes racial tensions. He has been stirring racial tensions since he got in the White House. Why, as Jacob’s uncle, would I want to talk to him? Our focus is on Jacob and healing the community,’ he said.
He said Jacob Blake’s father has told him he ‘has no interest in speaking with President Trump.’ His only interest at the moment is his son’s well-being and getting justice.
He said he did not talk to Jacob Blake’s mother on the subject.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he hoped to visit Wisconsin soon.
‘I’m checking it out now. We hope to be able to do that,’ he said during a stop in Pittsburgh on Monday.
In his speech earlier that day, Biden went after Trump calling him a ‘toxic presence’ and accused him of ‘stoking violence in our cities’ asking voters, ‘Do you really feel safer under Trump?’ Biden also condemned riots and looting and called on Americans to ‘stand against violence – in every form it takes.’
Wisconsin is a crucial battleground state in November’s election. Trump won it by less than 1 point in 2016 and both candidates want to see it in their column this fall.
Biden currently leads in state polling by 3.5 points in the RealClearPolitics polling average.
Democrats were originally scheduled to hold their national political convention in Wisconsin this summer – with Biden giving his acceptance speech for the presidential nomination there – but they turned the convention into a virtual event because of the coronavirus pandemic.