In his first interview since being exonerated by a Wisconsin jury on Friday, Kyle Rittenhouse sat down for a pre-taped interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson that aired Monday night.
Ranging from how Rittenhouse wound up in Kenosha — he was working in Kenosha County as a lifeguard in the summer of 2020, contrary to liberal media reports claiming he had no business being there — to what went through his mind when Joseph Rosenbaum first threatened to kill him.
"I was upset seeing my community up in flames," Rittenhouse said of the damage caused by Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioters. "The National Guard should have been called... the City of Kenosha failed... the governor, Tony Evers, failed the community," Rittenhouse said. "There should have been a lot more resources to help with that."
Rittenhouse also retold much of what he explained while on the witness stand in the Kenosha County Courthouse while testifying in his own defense just over a week ago. "Hearing this, it's just hard to believe this is happening in an American city," Tucker Carlson remarked.
"I was there to help anybody who needed it, Rittenhouse said of the first aid he rendered amid the leftist violence. "Shockingly, the only people I helped that night were rioters."
RITTENHOUSE: "Shockingly, the only people I helped that night were rioters." pic.twitter.com/AcyP9YEaHQ— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) November 23, 2021
"I didn't know I was going to be arrested for defending myself," Rittenhouse recalled at the time he turned himself in. "Part of the reason why I think I was arrested is because of the mob mentality," he added based on the circumstances of his arrest.
"I was formally arrested without a criminal complaint being drafted, they didn't know what they were charging me with, they were just arresting me," he explained.
RITTENHOUSE: "Part of the reason why I think I was arrested is because of the mob mentality." pic.twitter.com/dRzen0sK6v— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) November 23, 2021
Speaking about the trial and how everything played out as the mainstream media's narrative fell apart with each new witness' testimony and exhibit shared with the jury and news cameras in the courtroom, Rittenhouse said that the vast troves of videos — including several from Townhall's own Julio Rosas — from the night of the shooting were critical. Without them, Rittenhouse explained, he didn't think he would have been acquitted and sitting down with Tucker as a free man.
TUCKER: "What do you think would have happened to you if there hadn't been the amount of video that there is?"— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) November 23, 2021
RITTENHOUSE: "I can't even imagine. I don't think we'd be sitting here having this talk." pic.twitter.com/mH6ovf677K
The interview also touched on the lawyers who initially represented Rittenhouse — Lin Wood and John Pierce — who kept him in jail for nearly three months after he was arrested. "Lin Wood was raising money on my behalf, and he held me in jail for 87 days, disrespected my wishes, put me on media interviews which I should never have done," Rittenhouse explained.
He also accused his previous lawyers of "trying to raise money so they can take it for their own benefit, not trying to set me free... They wanted to keep me in jail until November 20," Rittenhouse said.
Rittenhouse slams his former lawyers Lin Wood and John Pierce for:— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) November 23, 2021
- leaving him in jail for 87 days
- separating him from his family
- using him as a cause
- disrespecting his wishes
- setting up irresponsible media interviews
- raising money for their own benefit pic.twitter.com/H197gUDFHA
When Carlson asked Rittenhouse what he thought of then-candidate Biden smearing him as a white supremacist in a campaign ad, Rittenhouse had a simple message:
"Mr. President, if I can 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."
Kyle Rittenhouse to Joe Biden:— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) November 23, 2021
"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."
"It's actual malice, defaming my character, for him to say something like that." pic.twitter.com/xueUghaF0m
"It's actual malice, defaming my character for him to say something like that," Rittenhouse added of Biden's baseless characterization. And it wasn't just Biden who engaged in the shameful smears.
"It's sickening," Rittenhouse said of the lies and smears propagated by other elected officials and media outlets. "I've never seen something so polarizing in my life when it's obvious self defense if you look at the case and look at the facts," Rittenhouse said. "This shouldn't have been a political case, it was made a political case."
Carlson asked if — as Townhall reported buzz about previously — Rittenhouse planned to take legal action to hold the media or others to account for their smears, he replied "I have really good lawyers who are taking care of that right now. I'm hoping one day there will be accountability for their actions."
TUCKER: "A lot of people watching...would like to see you help make this better by holding some of these liars to account. Do you plan to do that?"— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) November 23, 2021
RITTENHOUSE: "I have really good lawyers who are taking care of that right now." pic.twitter.com/hC6OClSfhB
"I feel my life has been extremely defamed by it," Rittenhouse said reflecting on the ordeal he just weathered. "I don't think I'd be able to go out and get a job and not have to deal with harassment."
"I'm at a place now to where I have to have people with me because people want to kill me just because I defended myself and they're too ignorant to look at the facts of what happened," Rittenhouse said of those who've threatened his life during and after the trial in which he was acquitted.
RITTENHOUSE: "I have to have people with me because people want to kill me just because I defended myself."— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) November 23, 2021
TUCKER: "Are you confident that the government will protect you from these threats?"
RITTENHOUSE: "I hope so, but we all know how the FBI works." pic.twitter.com/TQ6Par7JMH
Looking to the future, Rittenhouse told Carlson he's "hoping I can live a quiet, stress-free life and be free of any intimidation or harassment and just go on with my life as a normal 18-year-old kid attending college."
Rittenhouse, who's enrolled in a nursing program at Arizona State University and studying remotely, said he wants to study on-campus soon, but added his experiences have led him to look into law as a potential career, too.
"I'm hoping that people go back and understand the facts and watch the trial, watch the prosecutorial misconduct that I believe happened, and realize that I was an innocent 17-year-old who was violently attacked and defended myself."