Demonstrating a reticence to condemn that he hasn’t afforded to protesters, President Donald Trump on Saturday dodged a question about Kyle Rittenhouse. The Illinois teenager and Trump supporter has been charged with homicide in the shooting deaths of two demonstrators in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Donald Trump Jr., meanwhile, retweeted a supportive message about Rittenhouse.
The teen traveled to the Kenosha protest Tuesday armed with a semi-automatic rifle, according to investigators. The fatal shooting of two protesters and the wounding of a volunteer medic was captured in cellphone videos. Protesters have been demonstrating in Kenosha against the police shooting of young Black father Jacob Blake.
When asked about the shootings by a reporter, Trump responded: “You know that’s under investigation right now, and they’ll be reporting back to me … 48 hours maybe max, and we’ll have a comment about it. … We’re looking at it very, very carefully.”
The shootings occurred more than four days earlier, and the teen was charged Thursday with several crimes, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree attempted homicide and illegal possession of a dangerous firearm.
A reporter who had interviewed Rittenhouse earlier the day of the shootings told police the teen did not seem capable of handling his gun — an AR-15 — “very well,” according to the charging documents against him. The journalist also recounted that he saw Rittenhouse aim and fire at one of the victims, who did not appear to be armed, according to the documents. An older, unidentified armed man nearby earlier said he was there to “protect” Rittenhouse, the journalist recalled in his police account.
A Wisconsin lawmaker who was on the scene that night said armed vigilantes, who were recruited on Facebook, were on the streets looking to “hurt people.”
Some on the right are supporting, even lionizing, Rittenhouse.
Trump Jr. retweeted a post Friday supporting Rittenhouse. The original tweet claimed that Rittenhouse traveled to Kenosha to “protect businesses and offer medical support to people, even the rioters” ― though there is no evidence that he provided “medical support” to anyone. The tweet string also claimed that he was “threatened and shot at,” again with no evidence and completely unsupported in the account of the shootings in the charging documents against Rittenhouse.
The original poster, YouTuber Tim Pool, said Rittenhouse is a “good example of why I decided to vote for Trump.”