President Donald Trump refused Monday to condemn the actions of his supporters in Portland, Oregon, and Wisconsin over the past week.
Trump said Kyle Rittenhouse “probably would have been killed” had he not fatally shot two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, claiming that Rittenhouse had been “very violently attacked.” Rittenhouse, 17, faces homicide charges as well as a felony charge for attempted homicide.
“You saw the same tape as I saw and he was trying to get away from them I guess, it looks like,” Trump said. “And he fell, and then they very violently attacked him.”
“It’s something that we’re looking at right now, and it’s under investigation, but I guess he was in very big trouble, and he would have been — he probably would have been killed,” Trump continued, “but it’s under investigation.”
Social media accounts believed to belong to Rittenhouse portray a young White man with an affinity for guns who supports “Blue Lives Matter” and Trump.
Speaking at the White House, Trump also said his supporters were using paintballs as “a defensive mechanism” when they rolled through the streets of Portland, spraying a form of pepper spray and firing paintballs at protesters over the weekend.
“They had large numbers of people that were supporters, but that was a peaceful protest,” Trump said in a response to a question from 24newsreads.com’s Kaitlan Collins, “and paint is not — and paint as a defensive mechanism. Paint is not bullets.”
“Your supporters, and they are your supporters indeed,” he continued to Collins, “shot a young gentleman who — and killed him. Not with paint. But with a bullet. And I think it’s disgraceful. These people they protested peacefully.”
Trump said his supporters were protesting “when they turn on television or read whatever they may be reading,” and see violence in cities like Chicago or New York.
“Or a city like Portland,” he added, “where the entire city is ablaze all the time. And the mayor says we don’t want any help from the federal government. When these people turn that on and they see that they say this is not our country. This is not our country.”
“That was a peaceful protest, totally,” he added.
Asked if he agreed with armed vigilantes like Rittenhouse taking to the streets, Trump said he’d “like to see law enforcement take care of everything,” but didn’t condemn vigilantism.
“I’d like to see law enforcement take care of everything,” Trump said.