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Biden slams Trump for defending Kyle Rittenhouse over riot shootings and self-defense claims

President Donald Trump speaking at a "Keep America Great" rally in Phoenix, Ariz. in February 2020. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr) | Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking at the 2019 Iowa Federation of Labor Convention in Altoona, Iowa in August 2019. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
September 01, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden slammed President Trump on Monday after the president defended the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, a Kenosha, Wis. demonstrator who fatally shot two protesters last week.

A reporter asked Trump on Monday if he would “condemn the actions of vigilantes like Kyle Rittenhouse.” Trump responded that Rittenhouse appeared to be “in very big trouble” and “probably would have been killed” had he not fired upon the protesters who pursued him.

“That was an interesting situation. You saw the same tape as I saw. And 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’re looking at right now and it’s under investigation,” Trump said.

Videos of the shooting show what appears to be Rittenhouse – who was carrying an AR-15 – being pursued by demonstrators while claiming to be protecting property from destruction. One demonstrator swung at Rittenhouse with a skateboard, while another was armed with a handgun. Rittenhouse’s attorneys say he was acting in self-defense from attackers who endangered his life.

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However, the incident has been decried as a violent murder by Biden and others.

On Monday, Biden released a statement saying, “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.”

“Once again, I urge the President to join me in saying that while peaceful protest is a right — a necessity — violence is wrong, period. No matter who does it, no matter what political affiliation they have. Period,” Biden continued. “If Donald Trump can’t say that, then he is unfit to be President, and his preference for more violence — not less — is clear.”

Biden also accused Trump of using violence as “a political lifeline.”

Rittenhouse has been charged with homicide for the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, as well as recklessly endangering the lives of others, and possessing a weapon while underage. He faces five felonies and a misdemeanor.

Protests and more violent demonstrations erupted after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot while reaching into his car after walking away from police attempting to detain him.