Below is a full transcript of the interview, edited for grammar and to remove language around commercial breaks.
Ashleigh Banfield: To one side he is a hero, a champion of law and order, the right to bear arms, the American way. To the other side, he is a poster boy for so much that’s wrong with America: guns and hate and white entitlement. For 15 months, Kyle Rittenhouse has been a figment of our own beliefs and biases. His case was our cause, whatever that happened to be. And whichever facts didn’t fit were filed away or ignored outright. But not tonight. Tonight for the full hour, Kyle Rittenhouse like you’ve never seen him before: unfiltered, unedited, with a stunning ordeal behind him and an uncertain future ahead. Kyle, it’s good to see you. Thanks for joining me.
Kyle Rittenhouse: Thank you for having me on, Ashleigh.
Banfield: So, four days, it’s probably been a bit of a roller coaster I can imagine.
Rittenhouse: Definitely, definitely.
Banfield: Could you describe it for me, what you’ve been through for the last four days?
Rittenhouse: In the last four days. Just hanging out with family, decompressing from the last year-and-a-half that I just went through. Just trying to relax.
Banfield: Is that something that you can do is relax, given the person who now Kyle Rittenhouse is?
Rittenhouse: I try to. When I do try to relax, I lay down and I just turn off from the outside world and not pay attention to what’s going on on the outside.
Banfield: And then there is that outside. It’ll never go away. Have you processed yet everything that’s happened, including the verdict that came down Friday?
Rittenhouse: I’m still processing the verdict. It’s still very recent. And with everything else in the past, I process what happened and deal with my struggles from what I had to do.
Banfield: So, what is it for you to process it? What does that mean?
Rittenhouse: Talking to somebody, talking to my therapist, (and talking to people) just helping me get through it and understand everything.
Banfield: So you have good days and bad days?
Rittenhouse: I do.
Banfield: And describe the good days first. And then, of course, I’m gonna ask you to describe the bad ones.
Rittenhouse: Well, the good days are when I when I’m not thinking about anything and what happened and I’m relaxed and calm. And then the bad days are when I’m waking up at night because of nightmares. Or I’m staring off into space because I’m thinking about what I had to do.
Banfield: Were you prepared for the possibility of being locked up for 75 years or so?
Rittenhouse: I really wasn’t. It wasn’t something that I tried to think about. I just tried to focus on the positive. But there was always that possibility that I could spend the rest of my life in prison. So, it was something that I thought about, like this is a real possibility that can happen.
Banfield: And yet, I think you told Tucker (Carlson of Fox News) that you were not surprised by the five verdicts that came down on Friday. I was surprised to hear that because I saw you nearly collapse in court.
Rittenhouse: I wasn’t surprised. It just like a stress relief. I wasn’t surprised that they came to the correct verdict. I was just broken down with emotion and happiness that the jury got it correct.
Banfield: Before you came into the courtroom to hear the verdicts, your lawyer said that it was a really rough few moments. Can you describe those moments as you were walking back into the courtroom?
Rittenhouse: Well, as I was walking back, as I was actually going through the door to learn my fate, my knees buckled in and I had to like catch myself because I didn’t know what to expect. I was just like, pale and lightheaded.
Banfield: And then your lawyer said you threw up.
Rittenhouse: I did.
Banfield: And then came into the courtroom right afterwards.
Banfield: After the verdict, did you have any opportunity to have any contact with the jury, even there in the courtroom? Eye contact? Handshake? Anything at all?
Rittenhouse: I did not.
Banfield: Did you ever look at them? Did they look at you?
Rittenhouse: Yeah, a couple times during the trial, I would look at the jury and they would look at me but I didn’t see really any reaction.
Banfield: So, you never got to feel one way or the other of any particular people or as a body in general where their heads were?
Rittenhouse: I did not.
Banfield: And yet you felt confident that verdict time?
Banfield: You know, when you made the decision to take the stand, it is the biggest decision for a defendant. Ultimately, it was yours. Did you ever not want to?
Rittenhouse: No, I always wanted to tell my story and tell the truth of what happened on Aug. 25.
Banfield: Did your lawyers ever not want you to?
Rittenhouse: No, we always thought it was the best for me to go and testify, to tell the truth.
Banfield: And are you aware, either during trial, or now, how big this became, in America: your story, your trial? The polarization. Were you aware of all of that?
Rittenhouse: Not for the first 87 days I spent in jail. But once I got out, I slowly started to realize that people are using this case as a cause, when it should never have been used as a cause, for their own political agendas.
Banfield: But did you know how big it got?
Rittenhouse: A little bit. A little bit. I’m probably not as certain now because I live in it. It’s probably not as big as I think it is. Because I live in it.
Banfield: Is it possible it’s bigger than you think it is?
Rittenhouse: I don’t know. I really don’t know.
Banfield: Part of the trial-watching process is to watch the defendant at all times, whether he or she is at the defense table, or in your particular case, they take the stand. And the moment where you broke down on the stand became a moment that everyone saw through a different lens. Those who support you said this was an 18-year-old kid who was at the end of his rope, genuinely broken up about all of this. And those who don’t support you said it was crocodile tears and it was fake.
Tell me what it was, from your perspective, from that moment that you were trying to describe what was happening to you, and you became seized with a feeling. Walk me through that moment.
Rittenhouse: Well, what happened when I broke down is, I have PTSD. Thinking about all the answers and re-imagining in my head just made me have a PTSD episode.
Banfield: So your lawyer mentioned, it might have been a panic attack.
Rittenhouse: Yes, that’s what it was.
Banfield: Does this happen often?
Rittenhouse: Sometimes. Not as much as it used to. But occasionally I will.
Banfield: And what triggers it?
Rittenhouse: If I’m really deep in thought thinking about it, and I don’t go through the preparation, not the preparations, but I don’t calm myself down in time, or I forget to breathe.
Banfield: But thinking about the incident itself is that does that bring it on?
Rittenhouse: Sometimes. It really depends on the day.
Banfield: So, critics will say on the stand, you had a tough time describing the sequence of events that happened. But then on “Tucker Carlson,” it was as though it was a normal conversation. How would you answer to that?
Rittenhouse: Well, I wasn’t fighting for my life. When I was on the stand, I was fighting for my life on the stand. I wasn’t fighting for my life when I was on Tucker Carlson’s show.
Banfield: Does it feel weird to you to be scrutinized every moment? Every wink? Every nod? Every look? Everything you say, every word you use? Are you used to this? Has it sunk in that everyone’s watching you?
Rittenhouse: Well, I know everybody’s watching me, and I I don’t really pay attention to anything people say. … I don’t let it affect me or get to me.
Banfield: Tell me about your movements. I mean, I can walk out this door and no one will bat an eye. You don’t quite have that same freedom right now. Talk to me a little bit about your situation, your security.
Rittenhouse: Well, L.T., he helps with security. But he’s way more than that. He’s like a mentor. He gives advice. He helps protect me. He makes sure that I’m safe. So, we go through back ways and I try not to get recognized at all.
Banfield: So this is a great concern.
Rittenhouse: Yes, I don’t like really like when fans recognize me or anti-fans recognize me. I just like to try to be as normal as possible.
Banfield: So, talk to me about that. What happens when, as you say, fans recognize you? What happens when people who aren’t quite fans recognize you?
Rittenhouse: Well, that hasn’t happened yet. But when fans recognize me, they want to take a picture with me, and I just I just don’t want to be taking pictures with people I don’t know.
Banfield: But have you run into some tight spots with people who aren’t supportive?
Rittenhouse: I haven’t yet.
Banfield: There have obviously been death threats. Your attorney said that even he had received numerous death threats, I think by Friday night, by the night of the verdict. And have you also received those?
Rittenhouse: I haven’t received them directly, but they’ve been directed towards me. I just try my best to ignore them.
Banfield: How do they come in?
Rittenhouse: I believe they’re just posted on social media or sent to my attorney, saying, “Hey, we’re gonna kill you,” or something like that.
Banfield: Have you been apprised of the details? Like, can you be specific about what some people have said? Because usually, it’s a lot more than: “Hey, I’m gonna kill you.” Usually, there’s a lot more to it.
Rittenhouse: I don’t really know much. I don’t read them. I don’t find it necessary to read them. So, I couldn’t tell you exactly what they’re saying. I just know, though. They’re threatening my life.
Banfield: And is your mother aware of what’s coming?
Rittenhouse: I believe so.
Banfield: So, it sounds to me almost like you’ve got people kind of shielding you from the worst of it, from the details of what people are saying and doing?
Banfield: And what about the police? I think you mentioned on “Tucker,” that the FBI is aware of the threats that have come in. But then you had an interesting reaction about the FBI, and to some it sounded political, like you don’t agree with the FBI?
Rittenhouse: No, no, no. Tucker asked me: “Do you think the government is going to help protect you?”
And I said: “I hope so. But we all know how the FBI works.” I was referring to the FBI drone they were flying, surveilling on U.S. citizens.
Banfield: But you don’t have a lot of confidence in the FBI looking after your well-being?
Rittenhouse: I couldn’t tell you. Like I said on “Tucker,” I hope so. But I don’t know.
Banfield: Do you have a political feel? I mean, listen, the FBI has become a political football, like so many things in our society right now. Lots of people during the Trump era were very anti-FBI. Others very pro. Did some of that seep into your feeling at all, the pro- and anti-FBI feelings?
Rittenhouse: No. I was 17. I couldn’t even vote. So I didn’t really pay much attention to those type of politics.
Banfield: Do you have any concern about where you’re going to live? Have you chosen a place to live? Have you thought that far ahead yet?
Rittenhouse: I have but I don’t want to say on air where I plan to live, just to be free of any harassment.
Banfield: Even the state, or even a part of the country: North? South? East? West?
Banfield: But you want to stay?
Banfield: Is security the reason?
Banfield: 100 percent?
Banfield: But Wisconsin, Illinois aren’t in the picture?
Rittenhouse: They are not.
Rittenhouse: The death threats I have been receiving. And mainly because of the cold weather.
Banfield: So how are you planning to go about being Kyle Rittenhouse, with a name like Rittenhouse? It’s not Smith. Are you thinking of changing your name?
Rittenhouse: I am considering changing my name. And growing a beard, maybe, losing some weight – I gained it all back during this stressful time. And just changing my appearance.
Banfield: Do you think that’s going to help?
Rittenhouse: I hope so, but you never know.
Banfield: But, in terms of the future and security, that’s expensive. If you have to have L.T. and someone helping you just to be able to get around, are you going to be able to manage that? Can you afford to keep a security detail for months or years to come?
Rittenhouse: I hope so. A lot of people, generous supporters, have been donating … which is helping pay for the people that are helping me currently.
Banfield: And I think you had mentioned that you were currently enrolled at the University of Arizona.
Rittenhouse: Yes, at Arizona State University.
Banfield: You had to defer?
Rittenhouse: I took a compassionate withdrawal from two of my classes because I got overwhelmed with the trial coming on.
Banfield: So you’re going to go back?
Rittenhouse: I am.
Banfield: When is that?
Rittenhouse: When the next semester that opens up, I’m going to re-enroll in those classes so I can finish them up and pursue my career in nursing.
Banfield: This is online right now.
Banfield: But you have hopes to be on campus as any other student would be?
Banfield: And do you think that’s going to be doable?
Rittenhouse: I hope so because I just want to be a normal 18-year-old college student trying to better my future and get into a career in nursing.
Banfield: What about law? I think I heard you mentioned that’s also in the cards.
Rittenhouse: That is something I am considering. I’m big on nursing right now. I do want to look into law and see if it is right for me. If I decided to, it would definitely be criminal defense work.
Banfield: Kyle, we’ve had people from social media world who we’ve invited to ask you questions. So, if it’s alright, I’m going to ask one question for a viewer named Jen.
Jen says: “You’ve been offered congressional internships from Matt Gaetz and Madison Cawthorn, among others. I believe Paul Gosar was one of them. Do you plan on accepting these internships or getting back to private life and staying out of politics?”
Rittenhouse: I do not plan on accepting any internships. I don’t want to get involved in politics at all. I know nothing about it, and thank everybody for their support. But I’m good, thank you.
Banfield: So no interest in carrying the banner for anyone in this highly polarized situation you’ve found yourself in?
Rittenhouse: No, I don’t have any interest in that. Because, to me, this case is about the right to self-defense. Not where you fall, left or right.
Banfield: But you know that loads of people have sort of put you up there as a reason for or against their cause.
Rittenhouse: Yeah. Which I don’t agree with … because I’m not a cause person. I’m just a person who was attacked and defended myself.
Banfield: Have you become a pawn though, do you think?
Rittenhouse: I believe (attorneys) Lin Wood and John Pierce used me as their own pawn. That’s part of the reason why I fired them.
Banfield: To be clear, Lin Wood and John Pierce were your first attorneys in your case.
Banfield: So walk me through a little bit. I think people hear the name. And then they hear the controversy. But they don’t know the whole story. So what, in a nutshell, is the whole story with those first two attorneys?
Rittenhouse: So Lin Wood and John Pierce, on Aug. 27, became counsel. They started raising money and they raised over $2 million before Sept. 5, 2020. And they wanted to fight extradition with a militia argument … I didn’t even know what a militia was until Nov. 20 when I got bailed out.
But they went on to say that I was in an unorganized militia, which is just not true. And they didn’t respect my wishes. And they kept me away from my family for 87 days.
I thank them for raising the money. But I could have been bailed out a lot sooner, in September, if they hadn’t kept me in jail.
Banfield: When and how did you find out that they had raised enough money for your bail, and still weren’t posting it?
Rittenhouse: Shortly before I fired, before my mom fired Lin Wood, in, I want to say, December.
Banfield: But why would she fire him? Did she fire him because she found out that the money was in the pot but wasn’t being put towards bail?
Rittenhouse: We fired him because he was, like, going on with all this QAnon and election fraud stuff, and just stuff we don’t agree with.
Banfield: And so it was his political views that led to you firing Lin Wood?
Rittenhouse: A mixture of a little bit of that.
Banfield: And what else was in the mix?
Rittenhouse: Just how he is as a person.
Banfield: And what does that mean?
Rittenhouse: He’s insane.
Banfield: What made you think he was insane?
Rittenhouse: Just how he, like how he thinks he’s God, and he just says all these weird things like: “We’re going to keep that boy in jail, because there’s not going to be any… civil or criminal cases come the election,” which is just complete insanity.
Banfield: So you fired him and got a hold of the money that was raised and bailed out. And now I think it’s around $2 million. Am I mistaken?
Rittenhouse: Correct. $2 million.
Banfield: OK, what happens to that money now? And what do you know about it?
Rittenhouse: On the day that I was acquitted, Lin Wood and his attorneys filed a motion with the Kenosha County Court saying, “Hey, we want that $2 million back that we raised for Kyle,” which is supposed to go towards paying my legal bills that I still have going.
And he filed that motion as the verdict was being read, as I was walking into court to learn my fate. He was just trying to grift that money back when he said he raised it for so I can be able to pay my legal bills.
Banfield: And so you’re in a legal fight for that money.
Rittenhouse: We’re, we’re … yes.
Banfield: And you’ve hired civil attorneys.
Banfield: And how much money do you have left in legal bills to pay?
Rittenhouse: I couldn’t give you a number (off) the top of my head. I looked a couple days ago. But I wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly right now. I’ve been very busy over the past couple of days.
Banfield: That sounds about right, I would think. The people who put forth that money, they come from all over the country, I’m assuming?
Banfield: And they have, many of them, a political cause as well. Because if it was raised under the political banner and your former attorneys were using that politically to raise money, they might feel a certain way.
Rittenhouse: I don’t believe my donors are political. I believe my donors are the ones that believe in the right to self-defense. We have donors on the left. We have donors on the right.
Banfield: So do you feel you owe anybody who helped raise money? Or do you feel you owe anyone who sent money, in any respect, whether you owe them a political stance, or whether you owe them certain kinds of interviews. People criticize that you did the Tucker Carlson interview, because it was all part and parcel of the money raising.
Rittenhouse: Well, actually, with Tucker, they reached out to us and they wanted to film a documentary. There was no money exchanged. And we never even talked about money. It never was brought out. It was about memorializing my story.
And with the donors who donated, I don’t believe I owe them a political stance. But I do owe them a huge thank you. And thank you for all the support.
Banfield: So you don’t feel that you owe anybody a backing to their cause because they backed you?
Rittenhouse: Look, I don’t think politics have anything to do with this. So I don’t think I owe anybody a political stance. But I do owe them a huge thank you for all the support and donations.
Banfield: So I have another question. And, you know, a lot of this has become political. And many people have felt that it was also a question that involved racism as well. And I know you have a lot of views on that.
So, this question comes from Brian, in Hampton, Virginia, and Brian says: “Mr. Rittenhouse, you have stated that you are not a racist. But yet there’s video footage of you using hand signs that are used by groups that are considered by many to be white supremacists. Why have you associated with members of groups like the Proud Boys? Why have you used hand signs that are commonly associated with white supremacy?”
Rittenhouse: That’s a good question. I didn’t know that the OK hand sign was a symbol for white supremacy, just as I didn’t know that those people in the bar were Proud Boys. They were set up by my former attorney, who was fired because of that, for putting me in situations like that, with people I don’t agree with, by having them set up for security without telling us their background. And if I would have known they were Proud Boys, I would have said absolutely not.
Banfield: So, to be clear, which attorney put you in that bar?
Rittenhouse: John Pierce.
Banfield: He took you to that bar?
Rittenhouse: He arranged it. He wasn’t there. But he set it up and arranged it.
Banfield: Your attorney arranged for a then-17-year-old to go to a bar to meet those people?
Rittenhouse: For them to do security. And then they asked to buy me a drink. And I said, “Sure.”
Banfield: And they knew that you were 17.
Rittenhouse: In Wisconsin, it’s legal.
Banfield: To drink at 17 and a bar?
Rittenhouse: Yeah, it’s, it’s weird how it works down there.
Banfield: I’m gonna have to check on that. I would think you’d have to be with your guardian or your parent.
Rittenhouse: You have to be with your parent or guardian.
Banfield: Was your mom with you?
Banfield: OK. That makes a little bit more sense. But so, if you have, you know, some second thoughts about some of the things that happened in the last year, would that be among the second thoughts?
Rittenhouse: I definitely don’t think it looked good to hang out with people who are now known to be Proud Boys. I definitely wouldn’t do that again.
Banfield: Did they identify themselves to you while you were there? Was it a complete mystery until the headlines popped up later?
Rittenhouse: I found out they were Proud Boys when I saw the headlines. I thought they were just a bunch of, like, construction dudes based on how they looked.
Banfield: And that was a meeting ostensibly to set up security for you going forward.
Rittenhouse: It was for that hearing. For them to watch over my attorney’s office.
Banfield: For a hearing?
Banfield: I just want to be very clear. Those men who you met with were going to help you in a security situation.
Banfield: And you never hired them?
Banfield: Why not?
Rittenhouse: I don’t associate with the Proud Boys.
Banfield: You found out what they were, and you decided against?
Rittenhouse: I don’t want anything to do with (them).
Banfield: Kyle, so many people have had so many questions about the AR-15, and about taking an AR-15 into a crowd and a volatile situation. Looking back on that, do you think that was a good idea?
Rittenhouse: If I would have known that I would have had to take two lives that night, I don’t think I would have gone there. But we can’t change that.
Banfield: Generally speaking, there are going to be a lot of protests in the future. That’s going to continue. Would you advise anyone else to take an AR-15 assault-style weapon or high-powered rifle into a volatile situation?
Rittenhouse: After what I have gone through, I don’t think it’s worth having to fight for your life if you are ever attacked. Of course, to protect your house if you’re at your house. But I don’t think anybody should be in that situation. And they may be forced to defend themselves. And they may end up being prosecuted just for simply having to defend their life.
Banfield: But looking back on it, you regret being there that night.
Rittenhouse: I wouldn’t say I regret. I definitely regret going there. I don’t regret defending myself. I regret making the decision to go there. But what I’m trying to say is, if I could go back, I would not have gone there. I would have stayed home. But we can’t change that. I went there to protect property. But I was attacked by violent people, which forced me to defend myself.
Banfield: It was quite an incident that you were involved in, the images of what you saw when you fired your weapon. Did you know that the gun was that powerful? Had you fired a weapon before and seen anything like this before? Were you fluid and comfortable with a weapon like that?
Rittenhouse: That rifle was the only weapon I was legally allowed to have. I’ve shot it before. A gun is a gun. It’s still gonna do the same thing. It fires a bullet.
Banfield: I mean, high-powered weapons can do a lot more damage than, say, a pistol. But are you affected at all by the incident itself, the pulling the trigger and seeing the result of pulling the trigger and one man dying, another man dying and another man being severely injured? You had to have seen what happened.
Rittenhouse: I have nightmares from being attacked. I remember having to defend myself into something that keeps me up at night.
Banfield: Tell me a little more about that.
Rittenhouse: Like I said earlier, it’s something that I live with: having to take somebody’s life and defend myself.
Banfield: So when you have those nightmares, what do they look like? What do they sound like? What what’s happening in your, in your nightmares?
Rittenhouse: It’s just reliving the events of what happened.
Banfield: But be more specific.
Rittenhouse: I’ll wake up and like a cold sweat. Re-living being attacked and chased – that night and what happened to me.
Banfield: And do you ever have the same kinds of nightmares about the deaths of those men and the injury to the third man?
Rittenhouse: Not really but I have nightmares of them killing me if I didn’t defend myself.
Banfield: It’s a lot for 17- now 18-year-old man to process, taking the lives of people: humans, real men with real families. Do you think much about it? Do you stop down and ponder the lives lost the families left behind? Or are you not there yet?
Rittenhouse: I was forced to defend myself and I think about that every day if they never attacked me.
Banfield: But it doesn’t eat away at you?
Rittenhouse: It does bother me. Nobody ever wants to have to kill somebody. But I was forced to defend myself.
Banfield: If you had a message for the families of those men, what would it be?
Rittenhouse: I’m not sure. I don’t know how I can answer that right now, because there’s pending civil lawsuits that I believe are going to be filed.
Banfield: Do you have a feeling one way or the other? But you’re you can’t answer because the civil litigation?
Rittenhouse: I’m not going to answer that question right now.
Banfield: What is your feeling now? About the weapon that you used? Do you feel the same about the weapon today that you did the day before you were in that circumstance? Has anything changed about you in the use of a weapon and carrying a weapon?
Rittenhouse: It was the only weapon that night that I was legally allowed to have. If I could have any other weapon that night, I would have carried a pistol.
Banfield: And what about going forward? Will you ever brandish an AR-15 assault-style weapon again? Are you worried about it? Do you fear it? Do you have a visceral reaction to it? I just want to kind of get in your head about how you’re affected by all of this.
Rittenhouse: I don’t know how to answer that. I can’t read the future on that one?
Banfield: How do you feel about AR-15’s now?
Rittenhouse: I believe everybody has the right to own firearms. But I don’t know.
Banfield: Without question, they have the right. Some people might say I never want to touch the gun again. Some people will say I absolutely will touch that gun again and it hasn’t effected me in that way.
Rittenhouse: Like I said, it’s people’s right to own firearms if they want to.
Banfield: Under Wisconsin law, you were within your right. The jury decided. It’s clear cut. Under other states it may not have gone like that because the law is different. There’s a duty to retreat (in other states) and other elements of the law may not have been met.
Rittenhouse: I did retreat in Wisconsin. I don’t know the other laws of other states. I just know I was charged in Wisconsin and I defended myself in Wisconsin.
Banfield: The certain laws in Wisconsin certainly were in your favor in this particular case. And that may be very well why the jury voted the way they did. In other states that might not have happened. Are those other states wrong?
Rittenhouse: I don’t know the laws in other states. But it was self defense across the board. It was me being chased and somebody trying to steal my gun and attack me and pointing a gun at my head and hitting me with the skateboard.
Banfield: Kyle, you know that so many people have made this story about race. It was a protest, you know, with Black Lives Matter because of the shooting of Jacob Blake. The incident itself that involved you included all white people. And yet it is still hanging over this case that there is a racial component of it. With that in mind, I have a question for you from one of our viewers, his name is James. And James asks this: “Do you think that a black man would have been acquitted of the same charges?”
Rittenhouse: I believe so because this case had nothing to do with race. It just had to do with the right to self-defense. If he had the same resources and everything, which I believe he would have, it’s about the right to self-defense and the jury would have got it right.
Banfield: Some people would say: pipe dream. Definitely not in the American justice system. You may have been given the presumption of innocence. But a black person wouldn’t have enjoyed that same presumption of innocence and it would have been a bigger uphill climb. Do you have any thoughts one way or the other on that?
Rittenhouse: I do believe there’s a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, where prosecutors paint all people as guilty before innocent, which I don’t agree with.
Banfield: I’ll do one more on on James’ question and take you back before getting to trial. Many people have said publicly that they don’t think a black person would have made it off the street that night and that they would have been shot by protesters, by police, by anybody. But they wouldn’t even have been afforded the luxury of a trial. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Rittenhouse: I don’t. I don’t know. Because what happened, I believe it could have been the same set (of circumstances) or anything could could have changed. It could have been different either way for me or anybody else.
Banfield: Can you have any empathy toward those who are so frustrated with the justice system? Black Lives Matter is marching in the streets because they feel they don’t get a fair shake in the American justice system? Can you empathize? Do you have a feeling as to why they would feel that way?
Rittenhouse: Absolutely. Every one of our American fundamental rights: to peacefully protest and voice our opinion and assemble to make change.
Banfield: But then the justice issue, whereas, perhaps a white defendant would have an easier go than a black defendant would have if they even again, make it to defendant status. Do you feel one way or the other about why people feel that way? Why a lot of black Americans or people of color feel they wouldn’t get the same treatment that you did?
Rittenhouse: I can understand how some people may feel that way. I believe everybody has a right to a fair trial and to be presumed innocent before being proven guilty.
Banfield: Do you think it really happens though?
Rittenhouse: I don’t know. I know, in my case, I feel like I had to prove my innocence because a prosecutor took part in so much prosecutorial misconduct, which I believe he does with every case. That’s just my opinion.
Banfield: You mentioned to Tucker Carlson that you support the Black Lives Matter movement. I think a lot of people might have been surprised by that. They’ve made up their minds about you. They were very surprised by that. What do you want for the Black Lives Matter movement?
Rittenhouse: I support everybody’s right to peacefully protest and demonstrate. Like I said, I support the right to protest and not burn down American cities.
Banfield: But what would you want for the movement? This is a movement that is looking for racial justice, for police brutality to be mitigated. They’re looking for further rights for people of color in this country. So you support the Black Lives Matter movement. What would you like to see for that movement as they progress in society?
Rittenhouse: I support the right to protest and assemble and I believe everybody has a right to protest for change, no matter what their change wants to be. Everybody has that right to protest.
Banfield: Let me ask you this. I’m not sure you know what your friends and family have said and done throughout this whole process. With Facebook, we have a broader group of friends now. Have you suffered any losses? Have you lost friends or family members or has anything become difficult for you in your inner-circle because of what you’ve been through?
Rittenhouse: I haven’t really lost any friends or family members. My aunt isn’t really on my side until after the acquittal. Now wants to be my friend apparently.
Banfield: But this caused family strife.
Rittenhouse: Only with my aunt
Banfield: Your aunt is now reconsidering how she felt before the trial just because of the verdict?
Rittenhouse: I think so. I don’t really know what her motivations are.
Banfield: What did she say to you before the trial?
Rittenhouse: She just said, “I don’t like what he did,” even though I just simply defended myself.
Banfield: So it’s been a bit of a rift in the family then. Is that your mom’s sister? Your dad’s sister?
Rittenhouse: My dad’s sister.
Banfield: How has the family been all through this just in terms of you? Being a 17-year-old, now 18, living through something like this, it’s big for anybody. It’s big for anyone, let alone someone your age. How’s the family been?
Rittenhouse: It’s been hard. But we’ve been staying strong and staying positive.
Banfield: How does that happen? I mean, that’s a it sounds like a good line. But it’s it takes a lot to do that. What kind of support do you feel you’ve been given? And who do you feel like has been the rock star in your life to … help you get through this.
Rittenhouse: Definitely my mom and sisters being by my side throughout the entire trial. Jo-Ellan (Dimitrius) sat with them during the trial and Jo-Ellan was much more than a jury consultant for them during trial helping them stay strong and helping them stay strong with me.
Banfield: And that’s Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, your jury consultant. A very, very successful jury consultant right through from O.J. (Simpson) through Kobe (Bryant) through really big famous cases.
Banfield: Kyle, there’s been no secret that you’re none-too-pleased with what the president said about you. He flashed your picture in a campaign ad before he was President saying the words white supremacy. Many have said that you might prevail in a defamation case. Some said you won’t. Do you plan it?
Rittenhouse: I’m not gonna comment on that. I will say though I have really good civil attorneys handling all these issues.
Banfield: I know Nick Sandmann reached out to you to say I’m I’m here for advice if you need it. He had many defamation cases against media outlets. He was able to settle with many of them. Is that your same course of action? Do you want to hold the media accountable for things that people have said? And possibly the president and vice president?
Rittenhouse: Like I said, I have really good civil attorneys who are going to be working on that on my behalf.
Banfield: But it’s something that’s a possibility?
Banfield: Are you serious about it?
Rittenhouse: Like I said, my attorneys are handling that.
Banfield: The reason I ask is because you used the words “that’s actual malice defaming my character” when Tucker (Carlson) brought up the president last night. Those are the key words, which I assumed you must be preparing for something against the president.
Rittenhouse: Like I said, my civil attorneys are handling that.
Banfield: You’ve perfected the art of skirting that question. OK. I’m going to ask you a question from James, it’s a good one: “As a person receiving so much polarizing, mixed reactions from the general public ranging from praise to scrutinization of your character and your actions, what is the best piece of advice that you’ve received during or following the trial?”
Rittenhouse: The best piece of advice is to stay calm and know what I stand for and know that what I did was right. That’s the advice my therapist said. I know me. I know that I defended myself.
Banfield: What have you learned about yourself?
Rittenhouse: That I’m a lot stronger than I think, emotionally and mentally.
Banfield: And what do you want people to know about you?
Rittenhouse: That I’m just a normal 18-year-old kid trying to move on with my life and just want to live in peace and attend college and study.