Trump congratulates Rittenhouse on acquittal

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpOmar, Muslim Democrats decry Islamophobia amid death threats On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Trump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension MORE congratulated Kyle Rittenhouse after a jury found him not guilty of all charges at the conclusion of his homicide trial in Kenosha, Wis., Friday afternoon. 

A jury in Kenosha acquitted Rittenhouse of all five charges brought against him, including intentional homicide. Rittenhouse was charged with first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety after he fatally shot two men and injured a third during civil unrest in Kenosha last year. 

“Congratulations to Kyle Rittenhouse for being found INNOCENT of all charges,” Trump said in a statement Friday.

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“It’s called being found NOT GUILTY - And by the way, if that’s not self defense, nothing is!” he added.

The teen had traveled from Illinois to Kenosha after illegally purchasing an AR-15 from a friend and arrived as demonstrators were protesting against the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot in the back seven times by police. Blake survived the shooting, but the injuries he sustained left him paralyzed. 

During the trial, which has lasted about two weeks, the defense argued Rittenhouse used his AR-15 in self-defense because protesters attacked him. His lawyers claimed he was at the protest with a weapon to protect small businesses from looters, according to his testimony.

Prosecutors alleged that Rittenhouse arrived in Kenosha looking for trouble, and argued that the killings could not be considered self-defense if Rittenhouse provoked attacks.

After three and a half days of deliberation, the jury was unanimous in acquitting the teen. Rittenhouse could have faced life in prison if he was convicted on the count of intentional homicide. 

The Rittenhouse case is controversial, and its verdict has left a nation divided over the jury's decision. Conservatives and Republican lawmakers praised the verdict on Friday afternoon, with members of Congress like Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) offering the teen an internship. 

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“Kyle Rittenhouse is not guilty, my friends. You have a right to defend yourself, so be armed, be dangerous and be moral,” Cawthorne said in a video posted to social media Friday. 

Critics of the decision, including Democratic lawmakers, have lambasted the jury's verdict. 

Derrick Johnson, the president and CEO of the NAACP, called the decision a "travesty." 

"Rittenhouse's decision to go to Kenosha and provoke protestors was unwarranted. Moreover, the outcome of this case sets a dangerous precedent," Johnson said in a statement. "We have seen this same outcome time and time again; a justice system that presents different outcomes based on the race of the accused. This verdict is a reminder of the treacherous role that white supremacy and privilege play within our justice system."