President Trump defends supporters accused in deadly clashes

President Trump defends supporters accused in deadly clashes
Mr Trump defends his supporters at a Monday press conference. Source: AP
3 Min Read

Daily US Times: US President Donald Trump has defended his supporters for their alleged roles in recent deadly street clashes.

He suggested a 17-year-old boy accused of killing two in Wisconsin last week and Trump fans involved in clashes in Oregon on Saturday were acting in self-defence.

Mr Trump pointed out Joe Biden, Democratic White House challenger, has not specifically disavowed far-left activists accused of civil disorder.

Mr Biden is leading in opinion polls ahead of November’s election.

What did Trump say?

Mr Trump blamed Mr Biden and his allies for violence in cities run by Democratic mayors and governors at Monday’s White House news conference.

A reporter from CNN asked the president whether he would condemn supporters of his who fired paint pellets during a confrontation with counter-protesters at the weekend in Portland, Oregon.

A member of a right-wing group, Patriot Prayer, was killed in the ensuing street clashes by a suspect who has reportedly described himself as a member of antifa, a loosely-affiliated network of mainly far-left activists.

On Monday, police named the man who was shot dead as Aaron Danielson but no arrest has been made yet.

Mr Trump replied to the CNN reporter: “Well, I understand they had large numbers of people that were supporters, but that was a peaceful protest.”

“Paint as a defensive mechanism, paint is not bullets.

“Your supporters and they are your supporters indeed, shot a young gentleman who – and killed him, not with paint, but with a bullet. And I think it’s disgraceful.”

Another reporter asked the president whether he would condemn a shooting in Kenosha, allegedly by a teenager once pictured at one of the president’s rallies.

Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, is accused of shooting three people last week, two fatally, amid demonstrations in the city over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Mr Trump said in his first public comments on the shooter, “We’re looking at all of that, that was an interesting situation, you saw the same tape as I saw, and he was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like. And he fell, and then they very violently attacked him.”

“And it was something that we’re looking at right now, and it’s under investigation.

“I guess he was in very big trouble, he probably would have been killed,” he added.

Two Democratic congressmen pilloried Mr Trump for the remarks. “This is the United States President justifying a double murder by a white man illegally carrying an assault rifle across state lines,” Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts tweeted and Eric Swalwell of California tweeted that the president had just made Republicans “the Mass Shooter Party”.

Kyle Rittenhouse, who has been charged as an adult, has not yet been brought to trial.