Former President Donald Trump said Kyle Rittenhouse visited his Mar-a-Lago, Florida estate days after a Wisconsin jury found the teenager not guilty of charges relating to the shootings having killed two people and injured a third during racist unrest in Kenosha last summer.
The ex-president, speaking to Fox News’ Sean Hannity, called the 18-year-old a very nice young man and said he had visited his mother.
He wanted to know if he could come and say hello because he was a fan, Mr Trump said.
Mr Rittenhouse was acquitted of manslaughter and other charges after the jury found he acted in self-defense by shooting and killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and by injuring Gaige Grosskreutz, who is now 27 years old.
Mr Rittenhouse left his Illinois home at the age of 17 and joined armed civilians who said they wanted to protect Kenosha businesses from looting amid violent protests against Jacob Blake, a black man who was seriously shot and wounded by officers who believed he was safe to stab them with a knife during a police call in August 2020. The three men shot dead by Mr Rittenhouse were white.
He should never have gone through this, Mr Trump said after Monday’s visit. It was misconduct on the part of prosecutors, and it’s happening right across the United States with the Democrats.
President Biden said last week that the jury’s decision would leave many Americans angry and concerned, including me, but added that the jury’s decision must be recognized.
I stand by what the jury concluded, he told reporters. The jury system works and we must respect it.
The Rittenhouse trial was seen as a sort of inkblot test for political division in America.
Liberal voices have said that the fact that a teenager tied a high powered gun and took to the streets in another state highlighted a problem with gun violence and self-defense.
Mr Trump and his GOP allies said the teenager was a victim of overzealous prosecutors and mainstream media who quickly condemned him, but not rioters who destroyed businesses during the 2020 unrest.
Former allies of the presidents in Congress, including Reps Paul Gosar from Arizona and Matt Gaetz from Florida, are working to bring Mr. Rittenhouse as an intern to Capitol Hill.
Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert chose a friendly fight with North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn over who would employ Mr. Rittenhouse, though it took a tricky turn.
Madison Cawthorn, he said he would put me up for this Kyle Rittenhouse internship. But Madison Cawthorn has some really big guns, so I’d like to challenge him to a sprint instead, Ms Boebert told Newsmax. Let’s make it fair.
The comments raised eyebrows because Mr. Cawthorn is partially paralyzed and uses a wheelchair.
What, tweeted Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois who fought the Trump wing of the party.
Correction: An earlier version of this report suggested Mr. Blake’s condition after the shooting. He survived but was seriously injured.
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