While speaking during a White House Coronavirus briefing on Monday (Aug. 31), President Donald Trump defended Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who fatally shot two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin last week. He blamed the civil unrest on “left-wing political violence.”
“He was trying to get away from them, I guess ... and he fell,” Trump said, citing videos from the protest where a group of people attacked Rittenhouse. “And then they very violently attacked him.”
The president then claimed that the teen “probably would’ve been killed,” although he was armed with a semiautomatic rifle. “He was in very big trouble,” he said. “He probably would’ve been killed, but it’s under investigation.”
On Wednesday (Aug. 25), the teenager was arrested and charged with first-degree intentional homicide after he traveled across state lines and killed multiple people during protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Last week, prosecutors charged Rittenhouse with one count of reckless homicide, a count for attempted intentional homicide and two counts of recklessly endangering safety. He was also charged with possession of a dangerous weapon while under the age of 18. That charge is a misdemeanor.
Videos of the shooting went viral and Rittenhouse could be seen running around with his rifle. In one video, you can see him fatally shoot someone in the head. You can then see him running off with his rifle as he says, “I just killed someone,” over the phone.
Following the fatal shootings, the Trump campaign issued a statement on Wednesday night (Aug. 26) distancing themselves from Rittenhouse.
“President Trump has repeatedly and consistently condemned all forms of violence and believes we must protect all Americans from chaos and lawlessness,” Tim Murtaugh, communications director of Trump’s 2020 campaign, said in a statement. “This individual had nothing to do with our campaign and we fully support our fantastic law enforcement for their swift action in this case.”
Watch Trump’s video below.