Homeland Security reportedly told U.S. officials to speak sympathetically about Kyle Rittenhouse

Peter Weber
·2 min read

Internal talking points from the Department of Homeland Security directed federal law enforcement officers to speak sympathetically about Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Trump supporter facing intentional homicide charges for the shooting deaths of two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a chaotic night on Aug. 25, NBC News reports. Rittenhouse brought an AR-15-style rifle to Kenosha from his home in Illinois to guard private businesses alongside armed militia groups. According to police and video footage, he killed one protester, then shot two more after he tripped while trying to flee the scene.

The talking points obtained by NBC News urge federal officials to tell the media that Rittenhouse "took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners," and that "Kyle was seen being chased and attacked by rioters before allegedly shooting three of them, killing two." Also, "subsequent video has emerged reportedly showing that there were 'multiple gunmen' involved, which would lend more credence to the self-defense claims," the documents claim.

It isn't clear if the talking points originated in the White House, where President Trump and his press secretary have defended Rittenhouse. Three former Homeland Security officials told NBC News law enforcement isn't typically instructed to discuss particular groups or people before an investigation is finished. "It is as unprecedented as it is wrong," said one, Peter Boogaard.

The talking points also advise telling reporters that Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group in Oregon that clashes with anti-racism protesters, is not racist. One protester, Michael Reinoehl, apparently shot dead a Patriot Prayer member in Portland, before Washington state law enforcement, working for the U.S. Marshals, fatally shot him outside an apartment. Before being killed, Reinoehl said he was acting in self defense, and a witness said the officers did not identify themselves before killing Reinoehl and disputed police assertions that Reinoehl was armed and fired at police. Trump said at Tuesday's debate that the Marshals "took care of business"; earlier, he called Reinoehl's killing "retribution."

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