Kyle Rittenhouse has accused Joe Biden of ‘defamation’ and ‘malice’ after the president last year labeled him a white supremacist, with the teenager confirming he was considering legal action.
Rittenhouse, 18, spoke to Tucker Carlson for an interview broadcast on Monday night and told the Fox News host how, in the days since his acquittal on Friday, he has been forced to hire bodyguards.
‘I’m hoping I can live a quiet stress-free life, and be free of any intimidation or harassment and just go on with my life as a normal 18-year-old kid attending college,’ said Rittenhouse, who is currently studying nursing at Arizona State, and hoping to be able to attend in-person classes on campus.
The events of the last 15 months have also made him consider a career in law.
But, he said, he was scared to be alone in public.
‘I’m at a place now to where I have to have people with me, because people want to kill me just because I defended myself, and they are too ignorant to look at the facts of what happened,’ he said.
‘I see some of the threats. Some of the things people say is absolutely sickening.’
Rittenhouse sat down with Carlson days after being cleared on Friday of homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangerment in the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 27.
Kyle Rittenhouse on Monday night accused Joe Biden of defamation, saying he acted with ‘malice’ and his lawyers were contemplating suing
Rittenhouse sat down with Carlson days after being cleared of homicide, attempted homicide and more in the shooting deaths of two men
Carlson spoke to DailyMail.com hours before his exclusive interview airs Monday night on Tucker Carlson Tonight. ‘I don’t think he sees himself as a poster boy for anything. In fact, he emphatically doesn’t. And that’s part of the tragedy of it,’ Carlson said
In the interview, Rittenhouse:
- Said that he supported the Black Lives Matter movement and their right to peaceful protest, but could not condone the burning of businesses and rioting done in their name
- Said he felt the BLM protests in August 2020, after the shooting by Jacob Blake by a white police officer, had been taken over by ‘communists’
- Told how he was in Kenosha working his summer job as a lifeguard on August 24; stayed the night in the city, watched the rioting on television, and then on August 25 started the day cleaning graffiti from a school
- Described his first encounter with Rosenbaum, saying that the 36-year-old – who he would fatally shoot later that evening – said he would kill him, if he found him alone. He said Rosenbaum shortly after crossed paths with his group again, and said he wanted ‘to f-ing kill you, cut your hearts out you f-ing N words’
- Detailed the chaos of the shooting on August 25, and insisted once again that he was frightened for his life and fired in self-defense
- Told how he tried to hand himself in immediately, and was left ‘dizzy, vomiting’ and unable to breathe adter the shooting
- Described his 87-days in jail, and said his first set of lawyers – Lin Wood and John Pierce – were not interested in his welfare, and only concerned with advancing their political causes and making money off him
- Said he had contemplated moving to Naples, Florida before the shooting, but is now unsure where he will live. He is certain he will leave the Mid West, and is searching for a quiet life
Asked where the police were, in the chaos and rioting after the shooting of Jacob Blake, Rittenhouse replied: ‘I’m not sure really.’
He added: ‘They have a hard job, for sure.’
He criticized the leadership of the state and city.
‘The National Guard should have been called August 23.
‘The city of Kenosha failed the community.
‘The governor, Tony Evers, failed the community.’
Jurors decided the rifle-wielding teen opened fire in self-defense as the trio chased and attacked him during the August 2020 riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black male.
‘I FEAR FOR MY LIFE’
Rittenhouse said he has hired bodyguard to protect him, and plans to move away and live a quiet life, as ‘people want to kill me, just because I defended myself.’
He said he had received multiple death threats, and feared for his life.
‘I was an innocent 17 year old who was violently attacked and defended myself,’ he said.
‘Apparently for a lot of the people on the left it is wrong to want to defend your community.
‘I have to have people with me because people want to kill me, just because I defended myself.
‘Some of the things people say, it’s just sickening.’
‘DEFAMED BY BIDEN’
One of the most high-profile people to condemn Rittenhouse before the full facts were known was Joe Biden, who, as a candidate, tweeted an image of the teenager with a caption calling him a ‘white supremacist’.
On September 30, 2020, the then-candidate tweeted a video montage of far-right groups who Donald Trump the day before, during a presidential debate, refused to condemn.
Biden tweeted an attack on Trump, stating: ‘There’s no other way to put it: the President of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night.’
The tweet showed Rittenhouse, featured alongside the neo-Nazis marching through Charlotte and Proud Boys.
Biden has been repeatedly called on to apologize for the tweet, and since Rittenhouse’s acquittal on Friday the calls have only got stronger.
During the trial – which ran from November 2-19 – Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, was asked if Biden regretted his tweet.
‘What I’m not going to speak to right now is anything about an ongoing trial nor the president’s past comments,’ Psaki said, even though the president commented on the situation before it was litigated.
‘What I can reiterate for you is the president’s view that we shouldn’t have, broadly speaking, vigilantes patrolling our communities with assault weapons.
‘We shouldn’t have opportunists corrupting peaceful protests by rioting and burning down the communities they claim to represent – anywhere in the country.’
After Friday’s verdict, Biden said he was ‘angry and concerned’, but insisted that the verdict should be respected.
‘While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken,’ he said.
‘I ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. I know that we’re not going to heal our country’s wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law.
‘I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law. Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy.’
Rittenhouse on Monday night said that he wanted Biden to take another look at the case.
‘Mr President, if I would say one thing to you, I would urge you to go back and watch the trial, and understand the facts before you make a statement,’ he said.
‘It’s actual malice, defaming my character for him to say something like that.
‘It’s quite hysterical how nobody can go back and look at the facts of the case.
‘He crossed state lines, false. He’s a white supremacist, false. None of that is true.
‘The lies that they can get away with spreading just sickening and it’s a disgrace to this country.’
A RACIALLY-TINGED TRIAL?
His unanimous acquittal prompted accusations from the left that a ‘racist’ two-tier justice system favors white defendants and gives a green light to heavily-armed vigilantes.
Conservatives, meanwhile, have lauded Rittenhouse for protecting his community against lawlessness and pointed out that not a single person he shot at during the fiery chaos was black.
‘It never had anything to do with race,’ Rittenhouse told Carlson.
‘It had to do with the right to self defense.
‘I’m not a racist person.
‘I support the BLM movement and peacefully demonstrating.
‘I believe there’s a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, not just in my case but in other cases,’ said Rittenhouse.
The teenager said his case – with numerous mistruths being spread – made him realize how many miscarriages of justice there must be, especially for people without the high profile and resources he had.
‘It’s just amazing to see how much a prosecutor can take advantage of someone,’ he said.
Rittenhouse said he had ‘really good lawyers’ who were looking into defamation charges. He said he thought Joe Biden – who labelled him a white supremacist – acted with ‘malice’.
Rittenhouse was represented initially by Lin Wood and John Pierce.
The pair are known for their passionate defense of right-wing figures: Pierce is now representing many of the Capitol rioters, and Wood was one of the most passionate pro-Trump legal voices making false claims of ‘election fraud’.
Yet Rittenhouse told Carlson he did not believe Wood and Pierce were acting in his best interests.
He was advised to speak to The Washington Post, which he now believes was a mistake.
He was also flown by Pierce to Florida to meet members of the white supremacist Proud Boys group, which saw him lumped into the same group as the far-right agitators.
His lawyers said he was part of a militia – although Rittenhouse said he had no idea what a militia was.
‘No wonder people are saying I’m a white supremacist, because he painted that narrative,’ Rittenhouse said of Pierce.
And he said the lawyers kept him in jail longer than necessary, to help further their own narrative.
‘My own lawyer said I would be safer off in jail,’ he said.
‘I was in jail for 87 days
‘They could have had me back in Wisconsin by mid September
‘But they wanted to keep me in jail until November 20.’
Rittenhouse said he had no running water in his jail cell.
‘I felt sick, I lost weight,’ he said, adding that he was seriously alarmed about the state of his health.
‘I did not shower until November 20. My skin was bleeding, it was coming off of my body. It was the nastiest thing ever.
‘I feel bad for Dave, because he had to be with me in the car for that three hour ride, and I smelt terrible.’
CARLSON CALLS HIM ‘A SWEET KID’
Carlson said Rittenhouse was ‘a sweet kid’, and before the interview told DailyMail.com he felt the teenager wanted to set the record straight.
‘He’s 18. He didn’t get into this to make a political point. This is his community and they were burning it down,’ said Carlson, speaking to DailyMail.com hours before his exclusive interview aired on Monday on Tucker Carlson Tonight.
‘I don’t think he sees himself as a poster boy for anything. In fact, he emphatically doesn’t. And that’s part of the tragedy of it, I don’t think he ever wanted any of this.’
Carlson had a production crew embedded with Rittenhouse and his legal team throughout the murder trial for an hour-long documentary to be screened next month on subscription service, Fox Nation.
Carlson is adamant that jurors reached the appropriate verdict despite what he slams as a slew of racist smears and groundless links to white supremacy from liberal commentators.
Chicago: Over a thousand demonstrators gathered at Federal Plaza in Chicago on Saturday to protest the acquittal
Protests over the verdict continued on Sunday in Kenosha, where a group of around 150 people gathered in the Civic Center Park outside the courthouse where Rittenhouse was cleared to protest the verdict
‘What’s so distressing, is that nobody seems willing to assess Kyle Rittenhouse on his own terms,’ Carlson said of the Antioch, Illinois native.
‘My view after spending a few hours with him and talking to him about his life is that he was not an especially political kid. You know, he liked Andrew Yang.
‘He was a 17-year-old kid from a working class family who always had a job. He was a fry cook, a lifeguard, this is not someone from a privileged background – just the opposite.
‘He wasn’t in a militia. He had no weird views on race. If anything, he’s probably pretty liberal on race.
‘He went to Kenosha because a bunch of his relatives lived there, he worked there and he was upset because of what was happening there.
‘The police were doing nothing about it. The mayor of Kenosha was doing nothing about it. The governor of Wisconsin allowed it to happen. And so it fell to the 17-year-old kid.
‘The kid takes a stand against violence and he’s immediately threatened.’
Carlson said he supported Rittenhouse’s version of events from the start because he watched video clips of the shootings which would eventually form the bedrock of a successful defense which argued that Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz were the aggressors who presented a threat to his life.
Rittenhouse was dressed in a suit and tie for the interview as the family dined at Smokin’ Jerry’s Tiki Hut Bar & Grill in Placida, Florida on Sunday afternoon
Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all counts. The verdict came in at 12.15pm Friday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, leading to fears that the city might once again erupt in violence
In contrast, he says multiple commentators continue to repeat erroneous information on the case and that several oversees outlets were so confused by the US media’s racially-focused narrative that they wrongly reported the ‘victims’ as black.
‘The story had nothing to do with race. These were all entitled white kids,’ Carlson told DailyMail.com.
‘Why did they think that? Because that was the implication of the American media coverage.
‘Why would you do that? Why would you make people hate each other more on the basis of their race?
‘It’s impossible to get that stuff back in the bottle. They’re destroying the country. They’re literally destroying the country.’
Carlson has faced criticism himself from rival media outfits, with CNN’s Brian Stelter accusing his upcoming documentary of exploiting a tragedy to ‘drive subscriptions’ for Fox Nations.
Rittenhouse lawyer Mark Richards also told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he disapproved of giving access to a film crew but understood the teenager needed to raise money to crowdfund his defense.
‘We weren’t part of Kyle Rittenhouse’s defense team, that’s not our job. Our job is to get as much information as we can and deliver it to our viewers,’ countered Carlson, whose producers have denied paying Rittenhouse or offering any similar financial incentive.
‘It’s funny, I mean CNN has literally worked hand in hand with the Department of Justice to punish the enemies of the Joe Biden administration. That’s very sinister.
‘We have very capable producers and they were able to get more information about the case than CNN was able to get.’
Member of the right praised Rittenhouse’s acquittal, including Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene
Carlson, before Monday night’s broadcast, said he was hopeful viewers would take the time to watch his show so they can make up their own minds about the catastrophic shooting and the ensuing, 19-day trial that gripped the US.
‘I still believe in the core premise of journalism which is, if you bring people facts, some percentage of them will make up their own mind in a rational, thoughtful way,’ he said.
‘I supported him from day one because I watched the video. I didn’t think that he broke the law and that turned out to be true. But I didn’t know him and so this gives people an hour of video to assess what they think of him.
‘People will reach their own conclusions, but, you know, no one who watches this will come away thinking Rittenhouse is some kind of hater because he certainly isn’t.
‘And how dare people make the claim that he’s a white supremacist. I hope he sues the sh*t out of everyone who said that because it’s just so dishonest. It’s mind boggling actually.’
As for the future, Carlson fears it will prove incredibly difficult for Rittenhouse to resume anything resembling a normal life.
‘As far as I can tell, he wants to get a nursing degree at Arizona State University. My own adult take on that is that, that might be pretty hard,’ Carlson added.
‘I don’t know if he understands because he’s been in jail and in the middle of a murder trial. I don’t think he has perspective on how famous he’s become and what a symbol he’s become. I don’t think he gets that. I mean, how could he get that?’
Left-wing response to Rittenhouse’s acquittal
Cori Bush, a congresswoman for Missouri and member of ‘The Squad’ described Rittenhouse’s acquittal as ‘white supremacy in action’.
‘This system isn’t built to hold white supremacists accountable,’ she said.
‘It’s why Black and brown folks are brutalized and put in cages while white supremacist murderers walk free.
‘I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m heartbroken.’
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez agreed, tweeting: ‘What we are witnessing is a system functioning as designed and protecting those it was designed for.’
Fellow Squad member Ayanna Pressley added: ‘Racism & white supremacy remain the bedrock of our legal system. My heart breaks for the family & loved ones of those whose lives were stolen, and the trauma our communities face today and every day.
‘The struggle for accountability, for justice, for healing goes on.’
The head of the House Progressive Caucus, Pramila Jayapal, said: ‘I’m heartbroken.
‘If we’re ever going to tackle racial injustice in America, we have to admit our justice system isn’t working for Black, brown and Indigenous people. Then, we have to transform it.
‘It won’t be easy but I’m committed to organizing alongside you to make it happen.’
Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, said that ‘to call this a miscarriage of justice is an understatement.’
He tweeted: ‘Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum are victims. They should be alive today.
‘The only reason they’re not is because a violent, dangerous man chose to take a gun across state lines and start shooting people.’