On Friday, a jury found 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all five criminal charges against him after he fatally shot two men and wounded a third who attacked him during an Aug. 25, 2020 riot in Kenosha, Wis. The trial has garnered national attention and following the jury verdict, lawmakers and political pundits on both sides of the political shared their reactions.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was one of the first to tweet, “NOT GUILTY!!!!!!!” within minutes of the jury delivering their verdict.
Gaetz has been supportive of Rittenhouse’s self-defense claims. Earlier this week, Fox News reported Gaetz has proposed hiring Rittenhouse as a Congressional intern if he is acquitted.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) tweeted, “I believe justice has been served in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. I hope everyone can accept the verdict, remain peaceful, and let the community of Kenosha heal and rebuild.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tweeted, “Joe Biden needs to publicly apologize to Kyle Rittenhouse.”
Cotton’s tweet is likely in reference to a campaign ad Biden shared in 2020 claiming then-President Donald Trump refused to disavow white supremacists. The campaign ad used a photo of Rittenhouse taken on the night he was attacked and fired in self-defense, killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz.
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) tweeted, “The judge. The jury. The defendant. It’s white supremacy in action. This system isn’t built to hold white supremacists accountable. 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.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) tweeted, “We have more peaceful marching to do. To where? Every ballot box across our land. Lace up.”
Democrat New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio 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. To call this a miscarriage of justice is an understatement.”
The August 2020 shooting incident had sparked a variety of false and misleading claims about Rittenhouse’s actions and motives, and many prominent news media figures had referred to the then-17-year-old as a “domestic terrorist,” the equivalent of a “school shooter” and someone who is “deeply racist.” At points during the trial, presiding Judge Bruce Schroeder admonished the media’s coverage of the case as “grossly irresponsible” and “really quite frightening.”
Conservative Daily Wire host Matt Walsh tweeted, “I hope Rittenhouse bankrupts all of you dirtbags in media who smeared him as a white supremacist. I hope he ruins your life. I want you to suffer. It’s what you deserve. It’s justice.”
Following the verdict, “Defamation” also began to trend on Twitter as users discussed whether Rittenhouse should sue media outlets and prominent figures for false and misleading claims about him and his case.
Liberal MSNBC commentator Joy Reid tweeted, “We knew, but it’s sometimes helpful to remind ourselves how America was designed to work. It continues to work as designed. We have learned again what is considered legal for *some* people to do in America. It’s helpful to know where you stand in your country. Be safe out there.”
Film-maker and self-described Democrat Andy Ostroy tweeted, “BREAKING: #KyleRittenhouse verdict: NOT GUILTY. The moral of this story: If you’re gonna illegally cross state lines with an illegally-acquired AR-15 and walk through a riot, killing 2 people…just be white. . .”
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) tweeted, “This heartbreaking verdict is a miscarriage of justice and sets a dangerous precedent which justifies federal review by DOJ. Justice cannot tolerate armed persons crossing state lines looking for trouble while people engage in First Amendment-protected protest.”
Reacting to Nadler’s tweet, the Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee tweeted, “They were burning down the city.”