In a stunning interview, the acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse assailed President Joe Biden for showing "actual malice" and "defaming my character" in likening him to a white supremacist during the 2020 presidential campaign.
"Mr. President, if I would 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, 18, told Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight."
"It's actual malice, defaming my character, for him to say something like that."
Rittenhouse says he has "really good lawyers" who will be seeking to hold those who are perceived as defaming him accountable. That includes many in the news media.
"It's quite hysterical how nobody can go back and look at the facts of the case," a now-upset Rittenhouse, acquitted of various homicide and other charges by a Wisconsin jury late last week, told Carlson.
"'He crossed state lines.'
"'He's a white supremacist.'
"None of that is true, and the lies that they can just get away with spreading is just sickening, and it's a disgrace to this country."
Rittenhouse was on trial over the shooting three men, two fatally, at a Black Lives Matter rally in Kenosha in August 2020, but a jury found him not guilty, apparently accepting defense arguments that Rittenhouse, who was carrying a firearm, was defending himself against aggressors.
The teenager told Carlson he supports the right of groups like Black Lives Matter to protest. But he also expressed sorrow about rioters "taking advantage" of and corrupting the purposes of such demonstrations. In the case of his trial, that night in Kenosha arose out of the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, in the summer of 2020.
"I think it was opportunists taking advantage of the movement," Rittenhouse said of the riots; the violent unrest inspired him to go out into the streets of Kenosha. "I agree with the BLM movement. I agree everybody has a right to protest and assemble, but I do not agree that people have the right to burn down – I don't appreciate that people – are burning down American cities to try to spread their message.
"I think there are other ways to go around and do that."
In the wide-ranging interview, Rittenhouse ripped his first lawyers, including Lin Wood, said he was kept in jail without a shower for weeks, and noted he had to talk his mother into his turning himself in to the authorities.
"She was in shock," Rittenhouse said. "She was like, she wanted to go into hiding. I said, 'no, the right thing to do would be to turn myself in. I didn't do anything wrong.'"
Rittenhouse said he knows the video from the attacks and self-defense arguments likely saved his life and made his case in court.
"I can't even imagine," he told Carlson when asked where he would be without the video shown in media and in court.
"I don't think we would be sitting here right now having this talk, Tucker."
Rittenhouse said he was sad that the case has been framed by race instead of self-defense. Although the shooting episode was not interracial, Rittenhouse's most vocal critics have contended that a Black man, armed and acting as he did on that night in Kenosha, would hardly have been acquitted,
"To be honest, Tucker, this case has nothing to do with race," he said. "It never had anything to do with race. It had to do with the right to self-defense."
In a way, his comments echoed some of the points of social justice warriors.
"It's amazing to see how much a prosecutor can take advantage of somebody," he said. "Like, if they did this to me, imagine what they could have done to a person of color who maybe doesn't have the resources I do or widely publicized like my case."
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