Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Kyle Rittenhouse visited him in Mar-a-Lago after the 18-year-old was found not guilty of shooting and killing two men, and wounding a third, during an intense racial justice protest in Kenosha, Wis.
Trump called Rittenhouse a “fan,” and said the 18-year-old visited him in Florida along with his mother.
“Really a nice young man. What he went through — he should’ve, that was prosecutorial misconduct. He should not have had to suffer through a trial for that. He was going to be dead. 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 in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who showed a picture of Rittenhouse with the former president.
“Just left Mar-a-Lago a little while ago and he should never have been put through that. That was prosecutorial misconduct, and it’s happening all over the United States right now with the Democrats.”
Trump’s hour-long interview followed Tucker Carlson’s Monday night interview with Rittenhouse post-trial.
A Wisconsin jury acquitted Rittenhouse last week. In August 2020, the teen was armed with an AR-style semiautomatic rifle and argued he was acting in self-defense and was in town to protect property and provide medical assistance amid unrest in Kenosha. The protests were ignited by the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white police officer.
During his trial, Rittenhouse said he fired to protect himself after he was attacked and feared for his life.
The case was a political lightning rod amid the 2020 presidential race and months of protests against police brutality and racial injustice after the murder of George Floyd by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
The politicization of the Rittenhouse trial has continued with the right’s lionization of the 18-year-old. Legal defense funds have been formed in his name and memes have portrayed Rittenhouse as a hero on social media. Republican members of Congress have said they’d offer Rittenhouse an internship, and Trump fundraised off his acquittal. The left has portrayed him as a symbol of gun-toting vigilantism run amok.
Rittenhouse repeatedly said during Monday’s interview that his trial was not about politics.
“No matter what your opinion is or where you stand, this wasn’t a political case, it shouldn’t have been a political case, it was made a political case,” he told Carlson. “It has nothing to do with race and the ways people are twisting this is sickening.”