In his first interview since being acquitted, Kyle Rittenhouse – who killed two rioters and injured a third in acts of self-defense during riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year – said on Monday that President Joe Biden calling the teen a “white supremacist” amounted to “actual malice” that defamed his character.
“What did you make of the President of the United States calling you a ‘white supremacist?’” Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked Rittenhouse.
“Mr. President, if I could 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,” Rittenhouse said.
“That’s not a small thing to be called that,” Carlson commented.
“No, it’s actual malice, defaming my character, for him to say something like that,” Rittenhouse responded.
Last year, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden smeared Rittenhouse as a white supremacist in an official campaign advertisement.
Biden had shared the ad on Twitter, writing last year, “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.”
After the jury found Rittenhouse not guilty of all five charges, President Biden issued a statement calling for unity, but said he was “angry and concerned” about the jury’s decision.
“While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken. I ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us,” Biden’s statement read. “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.”
During the interview, Rittenhouse said the trial wasn’t just about him; rather, the right to self-defense itself was being put to the test.
“It wasn’t Kyle Rittenhouse on trial in Wisconsin. It was the right to self-defense on trial. If I was convicted, no one would ever be privileged to defend their life against attackers,” Rittenhouse said.
Rittenhouse also said that he believed God has been on his side since the beginning of his ordeal.
“You seem very calm,” Carlson noted in the interview. “You don’t seem like someone who has been through, you know, had his mind blown.”
“Yeah, on the inside I’m freaking out but the best thing you can do – you freak out, everybody else freaks out. It’s like a chain reaction,” Rittenhouse responded. “So the best thing I can do is stay calm.”
“Do you feel like you’ve been watched over?” Carlson asked.
“I believe God’s been on my side from the beginning,” Rittenhouse replied.