- Trump posed for a photo with Kyle Rittenhouse with a pic of him and Kim Jong Un in the background.
- Trump’s friendly relationship with Kim, North Korea’s repressive ruler, has been widely criticized.
- Rittenhouse, who was recently acquitted over shootings in Wisconsin last year, has emerged as a hero on the far right.
Former President Donald Trump posed for a photo with Kyle Rittenhouse in front of a framed picture of him shaking hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — widely considered one of the most repressive rulers in the world.
During his presidency, Trump met with Kim several times as part of a failed effort to foster the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Early in his tenure, Trump frequently traded threats and insults with Kim from across the world — at times sparking fears of nuclear war. But Trump eventually transitioned into characterizing the authoritarian leader as a friend, boasting about “love letters” Kim sent to him — often prompting bipartisan criticism in Washington.
Trump in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that aired on Tuesday revealed that he hosted Rittenhouse at Mar-a-Lago a “little while ago.”
Trump told Hannity that Rittenhouse was a “fan” of his. “Kyle, I got to know him a little bit. He called, he wanted to know if he could come over and say hello cause he was a fan,” Trump said. Rittenhouse visited the former president’s Florida resort with his mother.
“Really a nice young man. What he went through … that was prosecutorial misconduct. He should not have had to suffer through a trial for that. He was going to be dead,” Trump went on to say. “If he didn’t pull that trigger, that guy that put the gun to his head, in one-quarter of a second, he was going to pull the trigger. Kyle would’ve been dead. He’s a really good young guy.”
—John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) November 24, 2021
—Hunter Walker (@hunterw) November 24, 2021
A Wisconsin jury last week fully acquitted Rittenhouse for fatally shooting two men with an assault-style rifle and injuring a third, finding him not guilty on five charges.
The deadly shootings occurred in August 2020 amid civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time. Rittenhouse claimed he was acting in self-defense. The fatal incident transpired amid a summer that saw nationwide anti-racism protests, largely prompted by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Rittenhouse has been hailed as a hero by gun advocacy and far right groups, and Republicans like Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado have offered him internships. Experts and activists have expressed concerns that Rittenhouse’s acquittal will embolden white nationalist groups and encourage vigilantism.