Donald Trump Jr. Defends Kenosha Protest Shooter: ‘We All Do Stupid Things At 17’
Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday defended Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who fatally shot two anti-racism protesters in Wisconsin last month, stating that “we all do stupid things” at that age.
During an interview with the TV show “Extra,” the president’s eldest son was asked why the Trump administration hasn’t condemned Rittenhouse’s actions.
“We’re waiting for due process,” said Trump, whose father frequently attempts to undermine due process and the rule of law. “We’re not jumping to a conclusion.”
He continued: “If I put myself in Kyle Rittenhouse [sic] ― maybe I shouldn’t have been there. He’s a young kid. I don’t want 17-year-olds running around the streets with AR-15s. Maybe I wouldn’t have put myself in that situation. Who knows? But we all do stupid things at 17.”
“Extra” correspondent Rachel Lindsay interrupted that Rittenhouse’s actions were “a little beyond stupid.”
“Really stupid — fine,” Trump said. “But we all have to let that process play out and let due process take its course.”
Police arrested Rittenhouse on Aug. 26 at his house in Antioch, Illinois, which is about 30 minutes southwest of Kenosha. He was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in connection to the deaths of two people during a demonstration held the night before to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back several times by a Kenosha police officer on Aug. 23. The shooting sparked protests in Kenosha and in other cities across the country, including in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed by police in May.
Hours before the shooting on Aug. 25, Rittenhouse ― armed with a military-style semi-automatic rifle ― told right-wing news site The Daily Caller that he was in Kenosha to protect businesses that might be vandalized by protesters.
Bystander video obtained by The New York Times shows a group of unknown people pursuing Rittenhouse at one point during the night. One of the people in the group can be seen firing a handgun into the air.
Another person from the group ― 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum ― can be seen throwing a plastic bag at Rittenhouse and attempting to disarm him. Rittenhouse then fired multiple shots at Rosenbaum, who was later transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to police.
Moments later, after appearing to make a phone call, Rittenhouse can be seen fleeing the scene. Several bystanders chase after him before Rittenhouse trips and falls to the ground. He then fired multiple shots as three people rushed toward him, killing Anthony Huber and injuring Gaige Grosskreutz, both 26.
Rittenhouse then walks toward nearby police cars ― mostly with his hands in the air, but lowering them to his rifle at times ― as bystanders shout that he had just shot people, according to video from the scene. Police went straight over to the victims and did not apprehend Rittenhouse at the time.
An attorney for Rittenhouse has said his client was acting in self-defense and called him “a shining example of the American fighting spirit.”
President Donald Trump has refused to condemn Rittenhouse’s actions, suggesting days after the shooting that the teenager “probably would’ve been killed” had he not fired his rifle at the anti-racism protesters.
Asked Tuesday whether he understands what the phrase “Black Lives Matter” means, Trump Jr. said “of course.”
“I agree with it,” he said. “It’s a very good marketing message. It’s a great catchphrase, but that doesn’t back up a lot of the political ideology behind it.”
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