Trump's lionization of Kyle Rittenhouse even more disturbing than it seems: columnist
Kyle Rittenhouse has been charged with fatally shooting two men and injuring a third during protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. - Antioch Police Department/TNS/TNS

Donald Trump's remarks on Fox News about Kyle Rittenhouse reveal his MAGA movement's darkest impulses, according to a new column.

The twice-impeached one-term president revealed that Rittenhouse -- "really a nice young man" -- had visited him at Mar-A-Lago after his acquittal on all counts for killing two protesters and maiming a third, but Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent explained why Trump's lionization of the 18-year-old vigilante was so chilling.

"In the days after Rittenhouse, 18, was acquitted of homicide in killing two and wounding a third amid unrest in Kenosha, Wis., two strains of Rittenhouse lionization developed on the right," Sargent writes. "One was sanitized, mainly treating his acquittal as heroic in that he evaded a would-be injustice at the hands of out-of-control leftism."

"The other was darker and more explicit, treating Rittenhouse as a hero for what he did: cross state lines to deliberately place himself in a combustible situation, armed to kill, in a manner likely to provoke the fighting — and lead to the killing — that did indeed take place," the columnist adds.

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Trump endorsed the second strain of Rittenhouse heroism by declaring that he should never have been prosecuted in the first place, and Sargent said that sent a horrifying message to his followers.

"Rittenhouse's conduct should never have been subjected to scrutiny by a jury of his peers in the first place; Rittenhouse is the one who meted out justice; his killing in a highly confusing situation should properly have been placed all along outside the procedural realm we describe as the 'rule of law,'" Sargent writes.

"In Trump's telling, the very act of apparently seeking to dispense vigilante justice — and thus provoking a situation that led to the killing — amid violence connected to racial justice protests is precisely what should never have been subjected to rule-of-law scrutiny," he adds.

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