Officials at the Department of Homeland Security were reportedly instructed to describe Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who has been charged with murder after the fatal shooting of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in a sympathetic light.
According to NBC News, DHS officials received internal memos directing them to mention while speaking to the media that Rittenhouse “took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners.”
Other talking points reportedly say that “Kyle was seen being chased and attacked by rioters before allegedly shooting three of them, killing two” and “Subsequent video has emerged reportedly showing that there were ‘multiple gunmen’ involved, which would lend more credence to the self-defense claims.”
NBC News also reported that DHS officials were directed to tell the media they would not comment on an ongoing investigation in response to inquiries about Rittenhouse, then tell the media, “what I will say is that Rittenhouse, just like everyone else in America, is innocent until proven guilty and deserves a fair trial based on all the facts, not just the ones that support a certain narrative. This is why we try the accused in the court of law, not the star chamber of public opinion.”
A DHS spokesperson told NBC News that the department “does not comment on alleged leaked documents.”
President Donald Trump has refused to condemn Rittenhouse, stating instead that the shootings were an “interesting situation” and suggested, as the DHS memos do, that the teen acted out of self-defense.