- Donald Trump said Kyle Rittenhouse asked to visit with him following his acquittal “because he was a fan.”
- The former president hosted Rittenhouse and his mother at his Palm Beach resort on Monday.
- A slew of right-wing lawmakers and other conservatives have lionized Rittenhouse as a hero.
Former President Donald Trump said Kyle Rittenhouse, who last week was found not guilty of homicide and weapons charges, asked to visit Trump “because he was a fan.”
“Kyle I got to know him a little bit. He called,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity during a nearly hour-long interview on Tuesday night. “He wanted to know if he could come over and say hello because he was a fan.”
The former president hosted Rittenhouse and his mother at his Palm Beach resort on Monday, CNN reported.
Trump described Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two men and injured another during demonstrations against the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, as a “really a nice young man.” Rittenhouse was 17 in August 2020 when he opened fired with an assault-style rifle, killing Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, and partially paralyzing Gaige Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty on all charges and said he shot the men in self-defense.
“If he didn’t pull that trigger, 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,” Trump said. “He’s a really good young guy.”
Hannity showed a photo of Trump posing with Rittenhouse at Mar-a-Lago in front of a framed picture of the former president shaking hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
After the jury reached its verdict last Friday, Trump released a statement congratulating Rittenhouse.
“It’s called being found not guilty — and by the way, if that’s not self-defense, nothing is!” he wrote.
Rittenhouse’s case captured massive attention and has been heavily politicized. In January, prosecutors revealed images of Rittenhouse posing for photos with members of the Proud Boys, a far-right male chauvinist group, and holding up a white power hand sign in a bar in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, after his release from jail.
A slew of right-wing lawmakers and other conservatives have held up Rittenhouse as a hero. Several Republican members of Congress, including Reps. Matt Gaetz, Madison Cawthorn, Lauren Boebert, and Paul Gosar, have offered Rittenhouse internships in their offices.
The parents of Huber, one of the men Rittenhouse killed, condemned the verdict and said it sent “the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street.” Jacob Blake’s uncle, Justin Blake, called the verdict “an atrocity” and a “miss-service of justice.” President Joe Biden said he respected the jury’s decision, insisting “the jury system works,” but added that he and many Americans are “angry and concerned” about the outcome.