Rittenhouse attorney criticises prominent GOP lawmakers looking to ‘profit’ from trial: ‘It’s disgusting’

Mark Richards condemns Donald Trump Jr and attempts from GOP officials to ‘trade on celebrity’ of teenage client

Alex Woodward
New York
Sunday 21 November 2021 17:37
Kyle Rittenhouse attorney 'did not approve' of Fox News documentary crew

A defense attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse has criticised Republican lawmakers looking to “profit” from his client’s “celebrity” after he was acquitted in a closely watched double homicide trial.

“There’s a lot of people trying to profit on this, and I don’t think people should,” Mark Richards told Insider after a jury found Mr Rittenhouse not guilty of killing two men and injuring another in the aftermath of police brutality protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year.

At least three Republican members of Congress have suggested they want Mr Rittenhouse as an intern. North Carolina congressman Madison Cawthorn – who also told his followers to “be armed, be dangerous, and be moral” – offered the teenager an internship via Instagram story.

Arizona congressman Paul Gosar said on Twitter that he would arm-wrestle Florida congressman Matt Gaetz for “dibs” on Mr Rittenhouse as his intern. Mr Gaetz told conservative cable network Newsmax that his office “may reach out to him and see if he’d be interested in helping the country in additional ways”.

“They’re raising money on it and you have all these Republican congressmen saying, ‘Come work for me.’ ... They want to trade on his celebrity and I think it’s disgusting,” Mr Richards told Insider.

The case, and its outcome, have exposed deep partisan divides on issues related to the Second Amendment and whether it was appropriate for a teenager to arm himself against a racial justice upheaval.

Prominent right-wing figures and news personalities have come to his defense, while civil rights groups and Democratic officials have argued that the case underscores failures in the criminal justice system.

Former president Donald Trump celebrated his acquittal, and his son Donald Trump Jr tweeted, and then deleted, an offer from a gun rights organisation to send Mr Rittenhouse an AR-15-style rifle, along with a card in “support of Kyle”.

Mr Richards called Mr Trump Jr “an idiot”.

“He’s an idiot. I don’t have to expand on that because it speaks for itself,” he told Insider.

Mr Rittenhouse’s attorneys successfully argued to jurors that their client fired his AR-15-style rifle to protect himself in self-defense against a violent mob that chased after him on 25 August, 2020.

During an appearance on CNN on Friday, Mr Richards said he believes “too many people run around with guns in our society”.

“I represent a lot of people who have legal conceal carry permits who get into it, they pull the gun and there’s problems from there, whether they’re under the influence of alcohol or they use it to threaten somebody,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “I wish our society wasn’t perceived as being so dangerous that people needed to arm themselves.”

Mr Richards – who was initially hired by Mr Rittenhouse’s previous attorneys, including election fraud conspiracy theorist Lin Wood – told the Associated Press that he did not join the case as “somebody to go off on a crusade”.

“They wanted to use Kyle for a cause and something that I think was inappropriate – and I don’t represent causes. I represent clients,” he said.

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