Just a few days after the Aug. 25, 2020, riot by Black Lives Matter supporters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Trump said that Rittenhouse seemed to have been acting in self-defense when he shot three rioters, killing two. As Breitbart News noted:
President Donald Trump defended Illinois teenager Kyle Rittenhouse after he shot and killed two rioters during riots Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The president said that the case was still under investigation, but that he watched the videotape of the altercation that led to the shooting.
“He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like and he fell and then they very violently attacked him,” Trump said.
“I guess he was in very big trouble, he probably would have been killed, but it's under investigation,” Trump said.
PolitiFact marked Trump's analysis of the incident as “false,” claiming: “Trump's claim leaves out vital context: that Rittenhouse ran away from protesters after prosecutors say he had already shot and killed someone.” The website added that Trump created “an incendiary and false picture” of events — i.e. more “incendiary” than the idea that Rittenhouse had murdered peaceful protesters in cold blood.
The post was later updated (original emphasis) “to make clear that we are rating whether Trump described what happened accurately, not the separate question of whether what happened amounted to self-defense or, as charged by local prosecutors, homicide and other offenses.”
But it still contained the following claim:
The president correctly describes some minor details about that night. But overall, his comments grossly mischaracterize what happened — leaving out that by the time of the events he described, prosecutors say Rittenhouse had already shot and killed a man.
In this fact-check, we are not examining the question of whether Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, as his attorney claims. We are examining whether Trump is providing an accurate description of what happened by focusing on only a portion of the events of that night.
He is not.
PolitiFact was wrong: even the prosecution in the case conceded that the mob “violently attacked” Rittenhouse. Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger tried to argue that the crowd was justified in doing so, to stop a so-called “active shooter.”
Trump was right; PolitiFact was wrong. The PolitiFact website has yet to update its “False” rating, as of this writing.
PolitiFact has also been criticized for claiming that Rittenhouse was not legally in possession of his rifle; prosecutors eventually conceded that he was.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.