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- Trump posed for a photo with Kyle Rittenhouse with a photo of him and Kim Jong Un in the background.
- Trump’s friendly relationship with Kim, North Korea’s repressive ruler, has been widely criticized.
- The recently acquitted Rittenhouse 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 with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
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” that Kim sent to him — often prompting bipartisan criticism in Washington.
In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that aired on Tuesday, Trump said 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, Trump said.
“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 on charges related to the fatal shooting of two men with an assault-style rifle and the injuring of 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 Jacob Blake, a Black man. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, said 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 — such as Reps. Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, and Madison Cawthorn — have offered him internships. Experts and activists have expressed concerns that Rittenhouse’s acquittal could embolden white nationalist groups and encourage vigilantism.