U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has a new teenager he’s anxious to hire — murder suspect Kyle Rittenhouse.
During an appearance on Newsmax, Gaetz defended the 18-year-old, who is on trial now for charges after shooting three people at a Kenosha, Wisconsin, protest, killing two of them. The defense has argued Rittenhouse shot in self defense after being attacked, an incident caught on viral video. His case has become a cause célèbre on the right, and Gaetz on the national outlet said he hopes the jury acquits.
“He deserves a not guilty verdict and I sure hope he gets it,” the Fort Walton Beach Republican said. “Because you know what? Kyle Rittenhouse would probably make a pretty good congressional intern. We may reach out to him and see if he’d be interested in helping the country in additional ways.”
The August shooting immediately generated national attention, which was rekindled this week as Rittenhouse’s trial played out. A jury is now in its third day of deliberations after closing statements.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, faces five felony counts, including first-degree murder of Anthony Huber and reckless homicide of Joseph Rosenbaum. Video shows Huber attacking Rittenhouse with a skateboard before Rittenhouse fired shots.
Right-wing politicians across the country have rallied to Rittenhouse’s defense, to the horror of progressives who believe Rittenhouse showed up at a Black Lives Matter protest ready to kill. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a long-time Gaetz ally, on Wednesday sent out a campaign fundraiser calling Rittenhouse a community defender.
Gaetz, in the Newsmax interview, defended Jake Chansley, a Jan. 6 Capitol riot participant known as the “Qanon Shaman” sentenced Wednesday to 41 months in jail.
“This ‘QAnon Shaman’ is like a relatively harmless, non-violent vegan, and the notion that he’s got to be in prison for three and a half years to settle some sort of political score defies justice,” Gaetz said.
But with Chansley unable to join the congressional workforce, the only on-air job offer went to Rittenhouse. Gaetz retweeted video from the Newsmax segment on his official Twitter account, posting “he’d make a great Congressional Intern.”
Of note, Gaetz’s growing concerns of malicious prosecutions come as federal investigators continue a probe that could yet bring trouble for the third-term Congressman. Former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, a close Gaetz associate who pleaded guilty earlier this year to sex-trafficking a minor, is continuing to cooperate with prosecutors in investigations involving other individuals.
That reportedly includes investigating accusations Gaetz made financial payments through Greenberg to young women in exchange for sex. Greenberg attorney Fritz Scheller in April hinted Greenberg’s cooperation could mean trouble for Gaetz.
“I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today,” Scheller said at the time.