President Donald Trump defended Kyle Rittenhouse's actions in Kenosha, Wisconsin, saying the 17-year-old was "likely killed by an angry mob" if he hadn't shot them with the illegal weapon he was carrying.
"He tried to get away from them, it looks like, and he fell on it when they attacked him very violently," Trump replied on Monday to a question from DailyMail.com.
“It was something we're looking at and is being investigated, but I think he had big problems. He would probably have been killed. It is being investigated, ”he added during his press conference.
Rittenhouse is charged with two cases of "willful murder," a Wisconsin law charge identical to most other state murders for his actions in Kenosha in which two people were killed and one injured.
President Donald Trump is traveling to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday as the city grapples with racial tension and is still under curfew
President Trump defended Kyle Rittenhouse's actions, saying the 17-year-old was "likely killed by an angry mob" if he hadn't shot them with the illegal weapon he was carrying.
Democratic candidate Joe Biden condemned President Trump's words.
"The president refused to reprimand violence," he said in a statement following Trump's press conference.
“He wouldn't even turn down any of his followers on charges of murdering others. He is too weak, too afraid of the hatred he has aroused, to put an end to it. I therefore urge the President again to say with me that while peaceful protest is a right – a necessity – violence is wrong. No matter who does it, no matter what political affiliation they have. Period, ”he added.
President Trump travels to Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday as the city remains tense – those who want justice for Jacob Blake, those who want Rittenhouse to be prosecuted, and those who defend the police's actions, when it comes to both men: one black, one white.
Trump's visit to police officers after Blake's shooting sparked riot across town. Blake, a black man, was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer in front of his three young children on Sunday afternoon, the father of six being paralyzed from the waist down.
Kenosha stays below 7pm. Curfew with more than 1,500 members of the National Guard on site.
But the incident and the securing of demonstrations prompted Self-appointed militiamen who take to the streets with their own guns because they don't trust the police to protect the city.
Among those guards Tuesday night was Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, a white teenager who had come out of his Antioch, Illinois home to patrol the streets in an AR-15. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to openly carry a gun in Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse was part of a group of armed civilians protecting a gas station in Kenosha. There was an argument between them and the demonstrators. Shots were fired and 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum fell to the ground with a gunshot wound to his head that would be fatal.
The video posted on social media shows a man who the police believe is Rittenhouse calling on a cell phone and saying, "I just shot someone."
He escapes and is followed by many demonstrators, at least one of whom is armed with a pistol. Rittenhouse falls to the ground and the crowd comes in to grab his gun.
He was hit over the head by Anthony Huber, a 26-year-old protester who had a skateboard and wanted to disarm him.
Rittenhouse then starts shooting into the group and eventually killed Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz.
He wasn't arrested until the next day in Illinois, despite approaching police with his hands up while other protesters yelled that he had just shot several people.
He is in custody in Illinois. A judge will decide at a September 25 hearing whether Rittenhouse will be extradited to Wisconsin, where he will face trial as an adult. He faces six criminal offenses, including premeditated first degree murder and reckless first degree murder, as well as a misdemeanor charge for possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor.
Rittenhouse attorney Lin Wood said the 17-year-old vigilante was "attacked" with "lethal force" and had "the right to defend himself".
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was patrolling the streets in an AR-15. He fell over, was hit with a skateboard by other protesters who tried to disarm him and opened fire, wounding one person and killing two. He is now being held for murder
Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back in front of his three children, despite being unarmed
The president also refused to condemn vigilantes when he pressed the self-proclaimed militia from DailyMail.com.
"I think the law enforcement authorities should take care of everything, but we need to give our police officers and police their dignity back," he said.
He defended the police's actions, saying that sometimes they make a mistake – "they choke" – and that decision is played over and over on the evening news.
“You have bad cops – we have to take care of them. In other cases they choke, ”he said. “They have a quarter of a second to make a decision and sometimes they make the wrong decision. They make the wrong decision, you know, if they make the wrong decision and the other way, they are probably dead so they choke and that goes on on the evening news for weeks. & # 39;
“You're very tough on bad cops, but sometimes a cop or a cop who was a good cop, right? Well. But they choke, ”he added. “You have a quarter of a second to make some of these decisions and you are making the wrong decision which is very devastating, but I'll say this, I honor law enforcement. We wouldn't be here now if there weren't any law enforcement agencies. & # 39;
Meanwhile, outrage has grown nationwide at the difference in treatment by police officers from Rittenhouse, the white armed teenager, compared to their treatment of black unarmed Blake.
Trump said he would head to Kenosha on Tuesday despite Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers asking him to stay away. Evers warned that doing so could exacerbate tensions and increase violence in the city of 100,000. The number of supporters of the Black Lives Matters movement and the armed civil vigilante group has increased.
"It will also increase enthusiasm and love and respect for our country, and that's why I'm leaving because they did a fantastic job," Trump said at his press conference on Monday.
Evers, a Democrat, said in a letter to President Trump on Sunday that he was not welcome to Kenosha.
Urging him to reconsider his journey, he wrote, "I, along with other community leaders who have tried, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state."
Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, also a Democrat, also asked Trump not to come.
"While presidents are always welcome to come to this great city, this is not the best time to visit," Antaramian said in a statement on Sunday. “We hurt today and focus on healing, coming together as a community, and rebuilding. We have to listen a lot in Kenosha and I worry that a visit from the President will delay this important work. & # 39;
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers sent a letter to Trump on Sunday claiming the president was not welcome to Kenosha after the White House announced plans to visit the city on Saturday. "I am concerned, along with other community leaders who have tried, what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state," he wrote in the letter
"We have to listen a lot in Kenosha and I am concerned that a visit from the president will delay this important work," Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian said in a statement on Sunday
Trump has meanwhile insisted that his actions "saved" the city of Kenosha.
“If I didn't insist that the National Guard be activated and go to Kenosha, Wisconsin, there would be no Kenosha right now. There would also have been major deaths and injuries. I want to thank law enforcement and the National Guard. See you on Tuesday! He tweeted on Monday morning.
But he won't meet with Jacob Blake's family and say he refused to speak to them after they wanted their lawyer involved. The Blakes are represented by attorney Ben Crump, who also represented George Floyd's family.
Trump said he spoke to the Blake family pastor.
"I thought it would be better not to do anything when lawyers are involved," he said at his press conference on Monday. "They wanted to involve lawyers and I found that inappropriate, so I didn't, but I did speak to the pastor."
Jacob Blake's uncle, Justin Blake, told CNN that the family refused to meet with the president because he was a "racist".
President Trump is a racist who fuels racial tension. He has sparked racial tension since he was in the White House. Why should I, as Jacob's uncle, want to speak to him? Our focus is on Jacob and the healing of the community, ”he said.
He said Jacob Blake's father told him he was not interested in speaking to President Trump. His only concern right now is the well-being and justice of his son.
He said he hadn't spoken to Jacob Blake's mother about the matter.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said he hoped to visit Wisconsin soon.
"I'll check it out now. We hope we can do that, ”he said during a layover in Pittsburgh on Monday.
In his speech that day, Biden followed up on Trump who called him a "toxic presence" and accused him of "inciting violence in our cities" and asking voters, "Do you really feel safer under Trump?" Biden also condemned rioting and looting, and urged Americans "to take action against violence – in whatever form it takes".
Wisconsin is a key battlefield state in the November elections. Trump won it in 2016 with less than 1 point and both candidates want to see it in their column this fall.
Biden currently tops the state poll with 3.5 points on the RealClearPolitics poll average.
The Democrats were originally supposed to hold their national political convention in Wisconsin this summer – with Biden delivering his acceptance speech for the president's nomination there – but they made Congress a virtual event because of the coronavirus pandemic.