During a court conference yesterday on the extradition of Kyle Rittenhouse from Illinois to Wisconsin (where the Kenosha shootings occurred), the “lead attorney” for Rittenhouse, John Pierce of Pierce Bainbridge P.C., sought to delay a hearing to decide the issue. One of Pierce’s reasons was that “there is a presidential candidate in the heat of arguably the most heated election perhaps ever, certainly since 1860, that has inflamed the situation.” To date, the #Fightback Foundation – which Pierce founded with another lawyer, Lin Wood – has reportedly raised $2 million for Rittenhouse’s defense; yet, the 17-year old Rittenhouse has been sitting in a jail cell in Illinois since late August.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Scheller voiced displeasure at yesterday’s conference that the “case has been dragging on.”
Politicizing the Rittenhouse Case
It increasingly appears that the legal defense of Kyle Rittenhouse is being politicized, and connections to President Trump are plainly evident. The support for this includes:
- Rittenhouse’s front-row presence at Trump rally several months before the shooting.
- Defense fund donations to a right-wing group.
- Lawyers with ties to President Trump.
- Reported support from the Department of Homeland Security.
- Rittenhouse’s lawyer “presidential election” statements at yesterday’s hearing.
Rittenhouse at a Trump Rally
According to Buzzfeed, Rittenhouse was in the front row of a Trump Rally in January 2020, and ardently supports President Trump on social media. This, of course, was several months before the shootings; curiosity has surfaced as to how Rittenhouse came about such prime rally real estate?
Whatever the case may be, since the shootings, Trump has staked a clear position in support of his acolyte. As USA Today reported: “Trump defends Kyle Rittenhouse on eve of visit to Kenosha.”
The Fightback Foundation’s Ties to the Right
“With lies and fake news, the radical left mob attacks conservatives without accountability…The radical left sneers at the truth; they only care about power. . .They will lie, smear, and threaten if it means they get power.”
The Rittenhouse Lawyers
An article recently published in Mother Jones, strengthens the Trump connections. The title and the byline speak for themselves: Kyle Rittenhouse’s Lawyers See His Case as a Battle in Their Own Culture War — One of them wrote: “A second American Revolution against Tyranny has begun.”
Mother Jones delves into the histories of the Rittenhouse lawyers who founded Fightback, John Pierce and Lin Wood. Pierce stepped down from the Foundation shortly after The Daily Beast reported on financial and other problems facing the attorney.
Wood personally met with President Trump in the Oval Office in March 2020 a meeting Wood says was at President Trump’s invitation.
Pierce is a self-professed fan of the President, and has represented Republican figures Rudy Giuliani, George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, as well as a Russian Oligarch, who has supported President Trump. On top of these relationships:
- Robert Costello, who the New York Times says is a “long-time friend” of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, recently filed a complaint in New York with Pierce as his co-counsel.
- Pierce and Wood recently filed a complaint for Carter Page against Oath Inc, parent company for Huffington Post and Yahoo.
- A lawyer named Harmeet Dhillon was named Co-Chair of a Women for Trump Organization, shortly after Tweeting about a co-counsel relationship with Pierce’s firm.
(A Dhillon Facebook post was in the same timeframe.)
“Trump Officials Told to Make Comments Sympathetic to Rittenhouse”
The Trumpian ties to Rittenhouse also appear supported by an October 1, 2020 report from NBC News, which states: “Federal law enforcement officials were directed to make public comments sympathetic to Kyle Rittenhouse…according to internal Department of Homeland Security talking points obtained by NBC News.” According to the Journal Times: “[T]he Department of Homeland Security did not deny the authenticity of the document.”
Kyle Rittenhouse remains in jail. A Foundation raising funds, in part, for his defense has reportedly raised $2 million. Rittenhouse was in the front row of a Trump rally before the shootings. Trump has taken up for him after the shootings. His lawyers are connected to Trump. According to NBC News, Trump officials have been told to toe the Rittenhouse line. And in delaying the Rittenhouse criminal proceedings, his lawyer invoked Trump’s election fight.
One is left to wonder if Kyle Rittenhouse is languishing in jail longer than necessary? If the legal politics being played may not be in the best interest of a 17-year old facing double-murder charges? And, ultimately, if Rittenhouse is being exploited?
* Follow @DonLew87 on Twitter