Kyle Rittenhouse has reportedly visited Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after his acquittal by a Wisconsin jury last week, and was described by the former US president a “really nice young man”.
Mr Rittenhouse, 18, was found not guilty of shooting two men dead and injuring another during demonstrations against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020 having claimed self defence.
On Tuesday night, Mr Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that Mr Rittenhouse was a “fan” who asked to visit him in Mar-a-Lago following the trial.
“He came over with his mother. Really a nice young man and what he went through…that was prosecutorial misconduct.,” Mr Trump claimed. “He shouldn’t have to suffer through a trial for that. He was going to be dead.”
Mr Rittenhouse also appeared in a picture with his mother and Mr Trump, as well a photo featuring the pair that aired on Sean Hannity Tonight and circulated on Twitter on Tuesday night.
“If he didn’t pull that trigger,” the former president argued, “that guy that put the gun to his head, in one quarter of a second, he was going to pull the trigger — Kyle would’ve been dead.”
Mr Trump appeared to reference details from the trial against Mr Rittenhouse, who was 17 when he shot two men dead and wounded another during a night of demonstrations in Kenosha.
Mr Rittenhouse was armed with an AR-style semiautomatic rifle and had travelled from Antioch, Illinois, during the demonstrations ignited by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man.
His acquittal last week angered anti-racism and gun control activists who argued that Mr Rittenhouse should not have been allowed to discharge a lethal weapon and later claim self defence.
Mr Trump, however, went on to tell Mr Hannity that “He’s a really good young guy. Just 18-years-old. Just left Mar-a-Lago a little while ago and he should never have been put through that.”
On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki meanwhile defended remarks from US President Joe Biden last year that acccused Mr Trump of inciting acts of white supremacist violence.
A video shared by Mr Biden on Twitter featured Mr Rittenhouse, who faces allegations of posing with members of the far-right Proud Boys militia.
Ms Psaki told reporters that Mr Biden “spoke to the verdict last week, he has obviously condemned the hatred and division and violence we’ve seen around the country [committed] by groups like the Proud Boys, and groups that that individual has posed in photos with”.
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