(The Hill) — Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who was acquitted of murder last week after a jury found he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed two people and injured a third during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisc., last summer, accused President Joe Biden of defaming him.
“What did you make of the President of the United States calling you a white supremacist,” Rittenhouse was asked by Fox News host Tucker Carlson during a wide-ranging interview, a portion of which was aired on Monday evening.
Get daily news, weather, breaking news and alerts straight to your inbox! Sign up for the abc27 newsletters here.
“Mr. President, if I could 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 said.
Carlson pressed Rittenhouse to go on, saying “it’s not a small thing to be called that.”
“No,” Rittenhouse responded. “It’s actual malice, defaming my character, for him to say something like that.”
Carlson and Rittenhouse were apparently referencing a video cited by defenders of the teen that was tweeted by Biden in September during the presidential race last year, which featured a clip from a debate between Biden and former President Donald Trump.
During the debate, Fox News anchor and moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he was “willing to condemn white supremacist and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland.”
The clip shows Trump responding by condemning what he called political violence “from the left wing” before telling members of the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” “There’s no other way to put it: the President of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night,” Biden said in the tweet accompanying the video. Rittenhouse’s picture was also featured in Biden’s video.
After Rittenhouse was acquitted on Friday, Biden said he stood by what the jury had concluded. “The jury system works and we have to abide by it,” Biden told reporters after issuing a statement earlier on Friday saying, “I know that we’re not going to heal our country’s wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law.” Rittenhouse, during the interview with Carlson, maintained that his case “never had anything to do with race” and was instead about “the right to self-defense.”
“I’m not a racist person. I support the BLM movement,” Rittenhouse said. “I support peacefully demonstrating … I believe there needs to be change. I believe there’s a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, not just in my case but in other cases. It’s just amazing to see how much a prosecutor can take advantage of someone.”
“Like, if they did this to me, imagine what they could have done to a person of color who doesn’t maybe have the resources I do or it’s not widely publicized, like my case,” he said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Rittenhouse’s remarks about Biden.