Department of Homeland Security officials were given “talking points” supportive of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who was charged with fatally shooting two protesters in Kenosha, Wisc., in August, according to NBC News.
The talking points, according to the report, instructed DHS officials to use “comments sympathetic” to Rittenhouse when questioned by the media about the case.
One document suggests that officials note that the teen, who traveled from his home in Antioch, Ill., to Kenosha, “took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners.”
Other suggested comments to the media tell law enforcement to point out that Rittenhouse was being pursued by “rioters” and to mention that new video would help with “self-defense claims.”
The talking point read: “Kyle was seen being chased and attacked by rioters before allegedly shooting three of them, killing two. Subsequent video has emerged reportedly showing that there were ‘multiple gunmen’ involved, which would lend more credence to the self-defense claims.”
DHS officials were instructed to say that they cannot comment on an ongoing investigation but to add, “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.”
Another talking point advises saying: “This is also why we need to stop the violence in our cities. Chaotic and violent situations lead to chaotic, violent, and tragic outcomes. Everyone needs law and order.”
NBC News says they are unsure if the documents originated from the White House or at Homeland Security. And Peter Boogaard, a spokesperson for Homeland Security under the Obama administration told the news network that the directives are “unprecedented.”
But both the tone and language in the talking points are similar to that used by both President Trump and his campaign.
During this week’s debate with Joe Biden, Trump repeatedly asked Biden if he supported “law and order.” And then later, falsely claimed that his opponent refused to say so — even though there is video proof that Trump is lying.
The DHS talking points also seem to fit with Trump’s election strategy of ignoring all but those who already support him. His aim appears to be to motivate his base and not discourage the bigots that are already part of Trump’s racist cult. A sure sign of this was how Trump side-stepped condemning far-right extremists when asked to do so during the debate.
When the violent far-right extremist group, Proud Boys, was brought up during a debate question where Trump was challenged to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, the president said, “Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by.” He then quickly pivoted to railing against the canard that left-wing organized groups are the ones wreaking havoc across America.
The entity that Trump and many of his surrogates point toward while making their lie-filled accusations is antifa. But, as Biden pointed out during the debate, the president’s own FBI Director Chris Wray told Congress in September that antifa is “not a group or an organization. It’s a movement or an ideology.”