Trump suggests Kenosha shooter may have acted in self-defence

SPH Brightcove Video
Despite calls from local officials to reconsider the visit to the Midwestern city as emotions are still running high in the wake of Jacob Blake's shooting, President Donald Trump on Monday said he still plans to make the Kenosha trip.
A man speaks at a site where a man was killed in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Aug 26, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - US President Donald Trump suggested Monday (Aug 31) that a man arrested for killing two people in protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last week may have acted in self-defence, while criticising the killing of one of his supporters in Portland, Oregon, over the weekend that's still under investigation.

Mr Trump said video of the Kenosha incident showed that the alleged shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, "was trying to get away from" protesters but "he fell and then they very violently attacked him."

"It was something that we're looking at right now and it's under investigation," he said. "But I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would have been killed. It's under investigation."

In a speech in Pittsburgh earlier Monday, Mr Joe Biden, Trump's Democratic opponent, condemned rioters and looters, and accused the president of fomenting violence across the country.

After the White House briefing, Mr Biden said in a statement that "the president declined to rebuke violence. He wouldn't even repudiate one of his supporters who is charged with murder because of his attacks on others. He is too weak, too scared of the hatred he has stirred to put an end to it."

On Sunday, during an interview on ABC's "This Week," Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said that investigators were looking into video from Kenosha that showed Rittenhouse walking by police with a rifle strapped to his chest and his hands up, as bystanders called out that he had just shot people.

Mr Wolf wouldn't comment on the discrepancy of a white person with a weapon getting a pass from police, but said state and local authorities needed to do more.

Rittenhouse, who has expressed support for Mr Trump on social media, has been charged with homicide in the Aug 25 incident.

Before offering a defence of Rittenhouse, Mr Trump criticised the shooting of an Oregon man during protests in Portland on Saturday.

Mr Aaron J. Danielson, 39, of Portland, was shot in the chest after a caravan of Mr Trump supporters drove trucks into downtown Portland to confront people protesting police brutality. People in the caravan were filmed shooting paintball guns and spraying substances at protesters from their trucks.

Mr Trump called the truck caravan a "peaceful protest." "And paint is a defensive mechanism," he said. "Paint is not bullets."

"Your supporters, and they are your supporters indeed, shot a young gentleman who - and killed him, not with paint but with a bullet," he told a CNN reporter. "And I think it's disgraceful - these people, they protested peacefully. They went in very peacefully."

Portland police haven't announced any suspects in the shooting. They said the homicide is under investigation and are seeking public assistance.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.