Speak Well of Rittenhouse, Officials Were Told

Talking points were distributed in Homeland Security
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2020 5:50 PM CDT
Officials Got Suggestions for Talking About Rittenhouse
In a screen grab from livestream video, Kyle Rittenhouse is shown attending a hearing at the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court in Waukegan, Ill., last week.   (Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court via AP)

Somewhere in the White House or the Department of Homeland Security, Kyle Rittenhouse has support. Talking points distributed to department officials suggest ways to sympathetically portray the 17-year-old, who's charged with the fatal shootings of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin. When answering reporters' questions, NBC reports, officials are advised to say Rittenhouse "took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners." In addition, the internal documents suggest saying, "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." Steer the conversation to law and order, officials were told, suggesting "This is also why we need to stop the violence in our cities."

Four former Homeland Security officials under both parties told NBC it's not usual to be told to address a case still under investigation. "It is as unprecedented as it is wrong," said Peter Boogaard, who was a department spokesperson under President Obama. "They seemed more interested in Rittenhouse's reputation than calling for calm and actual law and order," Elizabeth Neumann, who was an assistant secretary under President Trump. Rittenhouse had posted his support of the president on social media, and Trump has said it looked like the teenager was trying to get away from the people he's charged with shooting. A lawyer for Rittenhouse said he plans to sue Joe Biden for libel, per Fox News, over a tweet the former vice president posted saying that the president refuses to disavow white supremacists. The video clip includes a still of an armed Rittenhouse in Kenosha. (More Kyle Rittenhouse stories.)

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