Federal law enforcement officials were directed to make public comments sympathetic to Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with fatally shooting two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, according to internal Department of Homeland Security talking points obtained by NBC News.
Rittenhouse, 17, supported Trump and police on his social media pages before he traveled from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha on Aug. 25 with an AR-15-style rifle, authorities said. Rittenhouse was arrested on first-degree murder charges and is fighting extradition to Wisconsin.
Four former Homeland Security officials, two of whom worked for Republican administrations, said it was unusual for law enforcement officials to be instructed to weigh in on a case involving a particular group or individual before investigations had concluded.
In Tuesday night’s debate, Trump refused to condemn white supremacy and instead blamed left-wing groups.
“The Proud Boys,” said Trump, referring to a right-wing group that has rallied in his support and against anti-racism protesters. “Stand back and stand by.”