PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP on Monday continued the finger-pointing between him and former Vice President Joe Biden over the violence at recent protests, with Trump defending the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of killing two protesters and injuring another with a semi-automatic rifle in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like, and he fell,” Trump said at the White House. “And then they very violently attacked him.”
Rittenhouse was seen in videos brandishing a gun while walking around protests over Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot seven times by a police officer. The 17-year-old has been charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree homicide and one count of attempted homicide.
Trump added the events are “interesting” and under investigation. He said he’d like to see everything be taken care of by law enforcement instead of private citizens, but he seemed to suggest that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense.
“I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would have been killed,” he said.
Although Rittenhouse has been documented attending at least one Trump rally, the president criticized Biden for not acknowledging violence coming from his supporters.
“The violent rioters share Biden’s same talking points, and they share his same agenda for our nation,” Trump said, adding that Biden “even talked about those on the right, but he didn’t talk about those on the left.”
Earlier on Monday, Biden in Pennsylvania accused Trump of being the reason for the violence.
“He doesn’t want to shed light, he wants to generate heat, and he’s stoking violence in our cities,” Biden said. “He can’t stop the violence because for years he’s fomented it.”
Trump began the press conference with a lengthy statement addressing Biden’s criticisms with the president’s go-to talking points about violent protesters.
Trump did not seem willing to entertain the request from Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to reconsider his visit to Kenosha on Tuesday following the protests over Blake’s shooting.
“I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together,” Evers wrote to Trump.
The president, however, said his presence could actually increase “enthusiasm” and “love and respect for our country.”
Trump is not scheduled to meet with Blake’s family during the trip. He said he has spoken with the family’s pastor but that Blake’s family wanted a lawyer present, which Trump said was “inappropriate.”