“Subsequent video has emerged reportedly showing that there were ‘multiple gunmen’ involved, which would lend more credence to the self-defense claims.”
Officials were told to emphasize the need for law and order amid continued unrest across the country in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in May.
“This is also why we need to stop the violence in our cities. Chaotic and violent situations lead to chaotic, violent and tragic outcomes. Everyone needs law and order.”
The memo instructs officials to state they cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, but one talking point encourages them to add “what I will say is that Rittenhouse, just like everyone else in America, is innocent until proven guilty and deserves a fair trial based on all the facts, not just the ones that support a certain narrative. This is why we try the accused in the court of law, not the star chamber of public opinion.”
Another set of directives in the document unrelated to Rittenhouse told officials to say that the far-right group Patriot Prayer was being mislabeled by the press as racist after recent clashes with protesters in Portland, Oregon.
NBC could not determine whether the coaching points were ordered by the White House or by top brass at the Department of Homeland Security.
Trump has previously said that it appeared Rittenhouse was under attack and had been “trying to get away from” the individuals he is accused of shooting. Trump has also largely blamed left-wing extremists for the violence.
Three former Homeland Security officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations called the orders highly unusual, especially during an ongoing investigation.
“It is as unprecedented as it is wrong,” said Peter Boogaard, who was a spokesperson for Homeland Security during the Obama administration, according to NBC.
A spokesperson at Homeland Security would only say the agency “does not comment on alleged leaked documents,” NBC reported.