President Donald Trump on Monday declined to condemn the actions of the 17-year-old shooter who killed two protesters and injured another during protests against police brutality in Kenosha last week, suggesting that the gunman acted in self defense.
Kyle Rittenhouse was captured on video shooting three protesters with an AR-15 assault rifle he was carrying on the third night of protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 23. Rittenhouse has since been charged with six criminal counts, including first-degree intentional homicide, for the shooting.
'He Was in Very Big Trouble'
When asked during a Monday press briefing whether he would condemn the Illinois teen's actions, Trump did the exact opposite and leaped in defense of Rittenhouse, suggesting that it appeared to him the shooter was under attack and acted in self defense.
"That was an interesting situation," the president said. "He was trying to get away from them, I guess it looks like, and he fell and then they very violently attacked him, and it was something that we are looking at right now and it's under investigation. But I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would've been killed. It's under investigation."
Trump 'A Disgrace to This Nation'
Trump's comments have now drawn criticism on Twitter with some calling out the president for siding with Rittenhouse.
"Kyle Rittenhouse is no hero. He's a murderer," wrote one user. "He went to Kenosha with the intent to commit murder. He's a racist troubled teenager with an obsession with guns. Shame on everyone making him out to be a hero. Trump is a disgrace to this nation."
"The president just spoke as though he were defense counsel for Kyle Rittenhouse", commented another. "The AR-15-toting Trump fanboy who came from Illinois to shoot two unarmed people to death in Kenosha, Wisconsin a couple days ago. This president is fomenting deadly violence to please his base."
Can the President Pardon Kyle Rittenhouse?
Trump's comments have sparked a debate on Twitter with many jumping to the conclusion that if the President wins the upcoming November election, he would pardon the teenager.
"Last week I said if Trump wins a second term and Kyle Rittenhouse goes to jail, Trump will absolutely pardon him and I stand by this statement even more now," said a user in a reply to the president's statement on Rittenhouse.
"I already know that if trump is reelected, he will pardon this white supremacist terrorist Kyle Rittenhouse," another. Here are some of the other posts:
Although the online community believes a pardon is likely for the teenager if Trump beats Democratic nominee Joe Biden to be re-elected as the President of the United States, Trump cannot pardon Rittenhouse as the chief of state can only pardon federal crimes and the Illinois resident has been charged with murder by the state of Wisconsin, making it a state crime.