(The Hill) — Former President Trump said in an interview late Tuesday that he met with Kyle Rittenhouse in Florida just days after the 18-year-old was acquitted of all charges in the fatal shooting of two protesters and the wounding of a third during demonstrations in Kenosha, Wis., last summer.
Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that Rittenhouse had left his Mar-a-Lago estate “a little while ago” after asking to come visit the former president in Florida. Trump said Rittenhouse traveled to the club with his mother.
Trump also said Rittenhouse was “a nice young man” whom he “got to know” for a bit, before defending the teenager.
“I have to say Kyle — Kyle I got to know him a little bit. He called. He wanted to know if he could come over and say hello because he was a fan, unlike the other guy. He came over with his mother, really a nice young man and what he went through, he should — that was prosecutorial misconduct,” Trump told Hannity.
The former president said Rittenhouse “should not have had to suffer through a trial” for his actions, suggesting that the then-17-year-old fired in self-defense.
“He should not have had to suffer through a trial for that. He was going to be dead. If he didn’t pull that trigger, that guy that put the gun to his head, in one-quarter of a second, he was going to pull the trigger, Kyle would have been dead,” Trump said.
“He’s a really good young guy. He’s 18 years old,” he added.
A jury found Rittenhouse not guilty of all three charges against him on Friday, putting an end to the trial that caught national attention after the teenager fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, then 26.
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Trump congratulated Rittenhouse shortly after the jury read its verdict on Friday, adding “if that’s not self defense, nothing is!”
Rittenhouse’s trial drove a political wedge in the country, with many Republicans, including Trump, arguing that the teenager was justified in his actions.
Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn (N.C.) last week said he offered Rittenhouse an internship.