First, he refused to denounce Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old from Illinois who has been charged in the shooting deaths of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Then his Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said he wouldn’t address the incident.
And yet, at Monday’s boisterous Press Briefing, Donald Trump couldn’t help himself. He presented a defense for the boy, whose mother knowingly drove him across state lines armed with a weapon he should not have been able to acquire. Trump claimed the teenager was acting in self-defense, even as the video shows his two victims were not in possession of any firearms.
Trump defends Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old supporter of his who is charged with murdering two protesters in Kenosha pic.twitter.com/KdfkdTPRVG
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 31, 2020
“He was trying to get away from them, I guess … and he fell,” Trump claimed, citing videos of the Rittenhouse attack. “And then they very violently attacked him.” Without prompting or proof, he also claimed that the teenager with a semiautomatic rifle “probably would’ve been killed.”
“He was in very big trouble. He probably would’ve been killed, but it’s under investigation,” Trump said.
Critics immediately jumped on the comments, pointing out the basic facts of the incident and blasting Trump for his irresponsibility.
Donald Trump publicly defends a man who traveled 30 minutes away with an assault rifle to confront protestors.
He killed two people and is charged with first-degree murder. Trump defends him, and his supporters won’t care.
Do you have any shame at all? pic.twitter.com/a00c2f4x6o
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) August 31, 2020
To be clear, Rittenhouse was trying to get away from the crowd only after shooting a man 4 times. They chased him trying to take his gun. He’s been charged with murder. And the president is defending him https://t.co/s4UXIOmyCL
— Laura Bassett (@LEBassett) August 31, 2020
Trump just publicly defended Kyle Rittenhouse. Please no more “both sides” false equivalencies. The violent right white supremacists with the backing of the President are the ones we all need to be worried about. Not the people insisting cops stop murdering Black folks.
— Read Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire (@JoshuaPotash) August 31, 2020
Trump also claimed he had been in contact with Jacob Blake’s family pastor, which was quickly fact-checked and proven to be another lie.
"We don't have a family pastor," Jacob Blake's father says on CNN. "I don't know who he talked to."
Trump said at tonight's briefing he had spoken with the Blake family's pastor.
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) August 31, 2020
With Trump failing to denounce the violence in Portland and Kenosha, #BidenCalm was trending on Twitter on Monday even as Trump’s team was pushing false narratives and doctored videos. Joe Biden clapped back at Trump earlier on Monday, saying his words regarding the incidents in Portland and Kenosha were more harmful than helpful.
Trump and Pence are running on this: “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”
And what’s their proof?
The violence you’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 31, 2020