Federal law enforcement officials were told to publicly make sympathetic comments about Kyle Rittenhouse — the 17-year-old charged with the shooting deaths of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, according to an internal Department of Homeland Security document.
The document, obtained by NBC News, was aimed at preparing Homeland Security officials for questions from the media. The document suggests officials note Rittenhouse “took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners.”
Another document distributed to Homeland Security officials said news outlets were incorrectly saying the group Patriot Prayer were racists after clashes between the group and protesters in Portland, Oregon, according to the network news.
And three former Homeland Security officials said it was unusual for law enforcement officials to be directed to comment on a case involving a particular group or individual before investigations were completed
“It is as unprecedented as it is wrong,” said Peter Boogaard, a spokesperson for Homeland Security during the Obama administration.
One of the talking points outlined in the Rittenhouse document says: “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.”
NBC News noted it is unclear whether any of the talking points originated at the White House or within Homeland Security’s press office.
Rittenhouse was arrested at his home in Antioch, Illinois, a day after the shootings in Kenosha on Aug. 25.
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