An internal memo from the Department of Homeland Security, which NBC News reported it received a copy of, indicates that either White House officials or leaders within the Department of Homeland Security were directing Homeland Security officials to speak favorably of Kyle Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse is the 17-year-old from Illinois who shot three Black Lives Matter demonstrators, killing two of them, during protests in Kenosha on Aug. 25, two days after Jacob Blake was shot in the back by a veteran officer from the Kenosha Police Department.
“In preparing Homeland Security officials for questions about Rittenhouse from the media, the document suggests that they note that he ‘took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners,’” NBC News reported. It is not clear if the directive came from White House officials or leaders within the Department of Homeland Security.
The statement about Rittenhouse taking “his rifle to the scene of the rioting” appears to contradict what Rittenhouse’s attorneys have been saying, claiming the AR-15 Rittenhouse used was provided by a friend in Wisconsin and that the firearm never crossed state lines.
When you start manufacturing facts to support false accusations, you get into trouble under the law of defamation. Kyle did not carry a gun across state lines. The gun belonged to his friend, a Wisconsin resident. The gun never left the State of Wisconsin.— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) August 28, 2020
Truth always prevails. https://t.co/iDbsykaVvY
According to NBC News: “The document instructs officials, if they are asked about Rittenhouse, to say they are not going to comment on an ongoing investigation and to say that ‘what I will say is that Rittenhouse, just like everyone else in America, is innocent until proven guilty and deserves a fair trial based on all the facts, not just the ones that support a certain narrative. This is why we try the accused in the court of law, not the star chamber of public opinion.’”
In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security did not deny the authenticity of the document but declined to comment on what it referred to as “leaked” information.
Social media posts from Rittenhouse show he strongly backed police and that he had attended at least one rally for President Donald Trump.
After videos from the shootings in Kenosha surfaced, Trump said that it initially appeared Rittenhouse was defending himself while being attacked. Others have blamed Rittenhouse for being the instigator and that those who were chasing him when the second person, Anthony Huber, was killed were trying to protect other lives after Rittenhouse had already killed one person, Joseph Rosenbaum.
Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree intentional homicide for killing Huber and first-degree reckless homicide for Rosenbaum’s death, and Rittenhouse faces life in prison if convicted of the first charge. He is also charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide for shooting protester Gaige Grosskreutz, misdemeanor possession of a firearm by a person under 18, and two counts of felony first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
Regarding violence at protests, Trump blamed the majority of the problems on left-leaning groups, repeatedly blaming the antifa ideology specifically. Although FBI Director Christopher Wray has said that antifa is a serious concern, he said that far-right activists, anti-government groups and private militias (like the one Rittenhouse said he was part of) are of much greater concern for inciting violence across the U.S.
In an Aug. 26 tweet, Homeland Security Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli called for patience from the public regarding the widely followed case against Rittenhouse. “While as Americans we are naturally antsy and want things concluded quickly, cases like this show the complexities involved in an investigation and why it can take some time to reach conclusions,” Cuccinelli wrote.
While as Americans we are naturally antsy and want things concluded quickly, cases like this show the complexities involved in an investigation and why it can take some time to reach conclusions.— Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli (@HomelandKen) August 27, 2020
Interviews With Alleged Kenosha Shooter Kyle Rittenhouse https://t.co/kSbPQLudYs
Armed men outside gas station
A group of armed individuals stands guard outside this gas station again tonight. They’ve been cooperative with the crowd as they come through, asking that they simply don’t destroy this property or loot #Kenosha #KenoshaProtests pic.twitter.com/mBShiUe0uD— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) August 26, 2020
'Don't burn the city'
Shooting at gas station
Homeboy with the long gun was being chased by “Antifa” says streamer on the ground. He runs right into group destroying cars, he was being attacked as one of them throws something at him. My quick take. #KenoshaRiots #KenoshaUprising pic.twitter.com/Cpz3YTH90k— Simulation Warlord🇺🇸 (@zerosum24) August 26, 2020
Shooting at gas station
A chase, and a shooting
Shooting in street
Shooting in street
Deneen Smith of Lee Newspapers contributed to this report.
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