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President Donald Trump on Monday refused to condemn 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen accused of multiple murders last week in Kenosha, Wis., during rioting that left parts of the city in ashes.
During a press conference, the president did not directly denounce the killings but instead made some references to scenes depicted in viral videos that, to some, appear to show Rittenhouse being chased by various rioters and defending himself while under attack.
“That was an interesting situation. He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looked like, and he fell, and then they very violently attacked him,” Trump said.
“He was in very big trouble,” the president noted further. “He probably would have been killed.”
Trump also repeatedly stated that the shootings were still under investigation.
That said, Rittenhouse has been charged with murdering Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. He has also been charged for firing at and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, 26.
The president’s comments drew a response from actor James Woods, who ‘cautioned’ that Trump was “smart enough” not to allow his comments to unduly influence any future trial.
“The Manson family trial was almost declared a mistrial because President Nixon offered his opinion publicly. President Trump is smart enough not to give the biased leftists any excuse to railroad #KyleRittenhouse,” he tweeted in response to a “Twitter Moments” post.
The Manson family trial was almost declared a mistrial because President Nixon offered his opinion publicly. President Trump is smart enough not to give the biased leftists any excuse to railroad #KyleRittenhouse. https://t.co/x536MNFH6C
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) September 1, 2020
In the video the president referenced, Rittenhouse appears to be retreating from several people pursuing him and screaming at him, with at least one person appearing to strike him from behind.
Shortly thereafter, Rittenhouse is seen falling to the ground and is immediately set upon by a rioter. As others close in on him, he opens fire.
At one point, Huber allegedly strikes Rittenhouse with a skateboard and appears to be trying to take away his rifle before being shot. Grosskreutz, who was armed with a handgun, is shot as he approaches Rittenhouse, who is sitting on the pavement.
One eyewitness, The Daily Caller’s Richie McGinnis, told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson last week that from his vantage point, it appeared as though Rittenhouse was trying to defend himself.
“What I saw was [the shooting “victim”] pursuing Rittenhouse, and Rittenhouse turned around. Right before he turned around, I’m not sure if this is the reason he turned around, but there was a gunshot. That’s actually visible on video,” McGinnis said in reference to Rosenbaum, the first person who was allegedly shot by Rittenhouse.
A Molotov cocktail appears to have been thrown at the shooter in Kenosha before he fired at the first victim. https://t.co/DPVgjepDsb
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) August 26, 2020
John Pierce, an associate of attorney L. Lin Wood, who has taken on Rittenhouse as a client, said that the accused “stopped to ensure care for the wounded attacker but faced a growing mob gesturing towards him.”
After realizing he was in trouble, Rittenhouse took off again but was chased by several rioters.
“Another attacker struck Kyle from behind as he fled down the street. Kyle turned as the mob pressed in on him and he fell to the ground. One attacker kicked Kyle while he was on the ground. Yet another bashed him over the head with a skateboard. Several rioters tried to disarm Kyle,” Pierce said.
“In fear for his life and concerned the crowd would either continue to shoot at him or even use his own weapon against him, Kyle had no choice but to fire multiple rounds towards his immediate attackers, striking two, including one armed attacker,” he added.
President Trump is scheduled to visit Kenosha on Tuesday, though the state’s Leftist governor, Tony Evers has asked that he not come.
Riots began in the city last week after a Kenosha police officer shot black suspect Jacob Blake as he reached inside his SUV. Evers condemned the officers on the scene shortly afterward before any facts about the incident were known.
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