KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) When acquitted of murder in unrest shootings in Wisconsin, Kyle Rittenhouse rose from possible life behind bars to scorching right-wing star: an exclusive interview with Tucker Carlson and a visit with Donald Trump to Mar-a-Lago wearing a photo of the two men smiling and giving a thumbs up.
For Rittenhouse, a year of legal uncertainty as to the validity of his self-defense claim has given way to uncertainty as to what will happen next. He told Carlson, in an appearance that upped hosts’ ratings by about 40%, that he hoped to become a nurse or maybe even a lawyer. He planned to keep a low profile but would definitely leave the Midwest.
Even as Rittenhouse determines his next moves, fundraising continues on his behalf, apparently to remove legal bills from his trial, but possibly in recognition that he could face civil lawsuits for the shooting. . Rittenhouse has hinted that he could bring his own libel actions and could seek possession of $ 2 million in bail collected by his supporters.
And some marketers say Rittenhouse, at least for a short time, might be able to capitalize on his story in lucrative paid appearances and even in a book.
I wouldn’t approach it on many levels, said Ric Bachrach, CEO of branding and marketing company Celebrity Focus. But someone is going to want to tell their story.
He could easily get a seven-figure book deal, said Andrew M. Stroth, a former Chicago talent agent and attorney unrelated to Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse, he said, could monetize his brand and potentially make millions.
Rittenhouse could get the $ 2 million that was raised for his bail, although there is a legal battle for it. In Kenosha County, where he was tried, if an accused is acquitted, the full amount of the bond is usually refunded to whoever posted it, by order of the judge. The poster for the bail is not necessarily the defendant, said Rebecca Matoska-Mentink, Kenosha County Court Clerk.
Rittenhouses’ bail was posted by his former lawyer, John Pierce, who said he waived his claim to the money. Mark Richards, current lawyer for Rittenhouses, said in a Friday filing that should go to his client. The Fightback Foundation, the organization that raised the funds and transferred them to Pierce so that the bond can be paid, argues that the money should be returned to the organization.
Other fundraising opportunities have opened up.
Following his acquittal, GoFundMe lifted Rittenhouse’s fundraising ban that was in place as part of a policy blocking fundraising for the legal defense of someone accused of a violent crime. There didn’t appear to be any new fundraising efforts for Rittenhouse on the GoFundMe website.
But there are at least three fundraising efforts for Rittenhouse or his family on GiveSendGo, one of which has raised more than $ 625,000, including thousands since his acquittal. It’s unclear how much one additional website, freekyleusa.org, raised.
An email Tuesday from Free Kyle USA, sent as Rittenhouses mother Wendy, called his acquittal a victory for truth, for justice and for all Americans, an inalienable and inalienable right to self-defense. . He said the funds would go to debts related to the case, legal bills, and then a scholarship fund for Rittenhouse so he can graduate from college debt-free.
He may not have to wait for donations. Stroth estimated that Rittenhouse could charge a lecturer fee on the lecture circuit between $ 2,500 and $ 25,000 per speech.
Stroth and Bachrach both said they would never seek to represent Rittenhouse and that many speaker agents and editors would consider him too toxic. But some who speak to the Conservatives might jump at the opportunity to sign it.
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was released from prison last year after then-President Donald Trump commuted his sentence, told reporters in August that the money he he earned by sending personalized greetings through the Cameo app was surprisingly lucrative. A personal video greeting from Blagojevich costs $ 100 and professional messages are $ 500.
Blagojevich has also started a podcast, another possible option for Rittenhouse.
There are also goods. Free Kyle t-shirts and other items sold online after the shooting were eventually dropped by the seller after prosecutors criticized the sales. The acquittal could reopen this market.
In his interview with Fox News, Rittenhouse hinted that he was investigating possible defamation lawsuits. I feel like my life has been extremely vilified, he said, adding: I have some really good lawyers dealing with this right now.
It’s not at all clear if Rittenhouse has a solid libel case. The threshold for proving defamation is much higher for public figures and those accused of crimes, even if they have subsequently been acquitted.
And Rittenhouse could be open to his own liability.
The man who was shot and wounded by Rittenhouse and the family of one of the two killed are suing those responsible for Kenosha. Neither lawsuit names Rittenhouse as a defendant, and it was not immediately clear whether any claims would be filed against him. The standard of proof is lower in civil trials than in criminal trials.
As Rittenhouse assesses his next moves, many conservatives are rushing to tie in with him as a symbol of the claimed right to self-defense.
In addition to the exclusive Carlsons interview, the host has a documentary on Rittenhouse coming in December, with footage from an on-board film crew. Trump spoke about Rittenhouses’ visit to Mar-a-Lago on the Sean Hannitys show, with photo.
Some of the more conservative members of Congress representatives Madison Cawthorn, Paul Gosar and Matt Gaetz have taken to social media to post internship offers at Rittenhouse, although it is not clear if they were serious or if Rittenhouse even has an interest in such work. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced a bill to award her the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Rittenhouse himself may need to act quickly to make the most of his story, Bachrach said.
Of Rittenhouses’ fame, he said: I think he’s got a lifespan, but I don’t think he’s ever going to go away.
Forliti reported from Minneapolis.
Find full AP coverage of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial at: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse
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