Trump campaign excuses Kenosha gunman: Americans 'have to defend themselves'

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Campaign spokesperson Hogan Gidley defended Kyle Rittenhouse's actions before admitting moments later that vigilantism was a 'bad idea.'

Trump campaign spokesperson Hogan Gidley appeared to defend Kyle Rittenhouse, the alleged Kenosha gunman, during an interview with CNN on Wednesday.

Rittenhouse, 17, was charged with two counts of first-degree homicide, one count of attempted homicide, and a number of other crimes last week after allegedly shooting three anti-racism protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last week, killing two of them.

Rittenhouse had traveled from his home in Illinois to the protests in Kenosha, claiming he was there to protect property alongside a number of other far-right vigilantes. He used a military-style assault weapon to allegedly carry out the shooting.

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During a White House news conference on Monday, Donald Trump defended Rittenhouse, a Trump supporter, alleging Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense.

Gidley appeared to echo those sentiments on Wednesday, saying, "If you don't allow police to do their job, then the American people have to defend themselves some way."

Moments later, he appeared to cautiously walk back his statements, admitting that vigilantism was "a bad idea."

From a Sept. 2, 2020 interview on CNN:

HOGAN GIDLEY: A couple of night ago, on another network, [Trump] pointed out the fact that what he wants is for the brave men and women of law enforcement to be able to do their job. The problem is: So many Democratic governors, so many Democratic mayors have now said, 'Don't do your jobs, stand down. Let these riots, let these looters continue to criminalize our communities.'

 

And the president doesn't want that. He wants them to be able to stand up.

 

But it just makes sense, just logically: If you don't allow police to do their job, then the American people have to defend themselves some way.

 

And so they have to be cognizant of the fact that so often times ...

 

CNN ANCHOR JIM SCIUTTO: You just there justified vigilantism.

 

[crosstalk]

 

GIDLEY: We have a Second Amendment in this country. And when the Democrats are doing something quite dangerous — they're saying, first of all, the cops can't defend you. Oh, and by the way, we also want to strip away your Second Amendment rights. It'd be one thing if they said we don't want the cops to do their jobs, but here are a lot of guns to protect yourselves. But they're not doing that. They're saying they want to get rid of both. That leaves American families in grave danger, and the president is against that.

 

SCUITTO: So you won't condemn vigilantism? I'll give you an opportunity to say, 'let the cops do their job. We don't want people from out of state coming in and taking on a law enforcement role untrained.' Can you say, just definitively, that's a bad idea? I had the commissioner of the New York Police Department...

 

GIDLEY: It is a bad idea.

 

SCUITTO: That's a bad idea?

 

GIDLEY: It is a bad idea, yes. And we've said many times that we want the men and women of law enforcement to do their jobs, not be hamstrung by local officials.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.