The Department of Homeland Security instructed federal law enforcement officials to publicly sympathize with a teenager who gunned down two protesters in Wisconsin.
It's not clear whether the talking points originated in the White House or in the DHS press office, but a document obtained by NBC News showed officials were instructed to describe 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse as a defender of small business owners from rioters.
"Kyle was seen being chased and attacked by rioters before allegedly shooting three of them, killing two," the talking points instruct. "Subsequent video has emerged reportedly showing that there were 'multiple gunmen' involved, which would lend more credence to the self-defense claims."
Another set of talking points handed out to DHS officials insisted the media had inaccurately described the right-wing Patriot Prayer group as racists after they clashed with protesters in Portland, Oregon.
Three former DHS officials, including two who served in Republican administrations, told NBC it would be unusual for law enforcement officials to express an opinion on an individual charged with a crime before the investigation had concluded.
"It is as unprecedented as it is wrong," said Peter Boogaard, a DHS spokesman during the Obama administration.
The document instructs officials to say they would not comment on an ongoing investigation, saying anyone should be considered innocent until proven guilty, but then directed them to frame the Kenosha shootings in a law-and-order context.
"This is also why we need to stop the violence in our cities. Chaotic and violent situations lead to chaotic, violent and tragic outcomes," the document states. "Everyone needs law and order."
A DHS spokesperson said the department "does not comment on alleged leaked documents."