(NewsNation Now) — Kyle Rittenhouse says he never meant to pose for photos with the Proud Boys, and blamed his former attorneys for introducing them into his case.
The meetings “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,” Rittenhouse said.
As part of his exclusive interview with NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield, which airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET, Rittenhouse said he didn’t know making the “OK” sign with his hand had become a white supremacist signal, and he didn’t know he was in a bar full of Proud Boys members Jan. 5.
The photos of Rittenhouse at a bar with Proud Boys were circulated as proof that he was aligned with them, but he blames his previous attorneys, John Pierce and Lin Wood.
Rittenhouse said Pierce “arranged” the meeting at the Wisconsin bar, but was not there himself.
“I found out they were Proud Boys when I saw the headlines,” Rittenhouse told NewsNation. “I thought they were just a bunch of, like, construction dudes based on how they looked.”
Rittenhouse said his former lawyers discussed having the Proud Boys provide security, and said he didn’t hire them because he didn’t “want anything to do with them.”
Earlier this year, prosecutors were using photos of Rittenhouse’s interaction at the bar that day as proof of their claim that he was in Kenosha, Wisconsin, answering a call from white supremacists.
Wednesday, Pierce told NewsNation he was not at the event where the pictures were taken at. He said David Hanckock, the Rittenhouse family spokesperson, “handled the organization and selection of security personnel.”
Wood said he had nothing to do with arranging security for Rittenhouse and didn’t know what the Proud Boys were.
On Nov. 19, the day Rittenhouse was acquitted, Pierce released a statement saying he was “so proud of Kyle” and “incredibly proud of the work that I did in the initial months of the case.”
Rittenhouse, 18, was charged in the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and for wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, now 27. He shot all three men in a chaotic Aug. 25, 2020 scene that the jury found entitled Rittenhouse to lethal self-defense.
That night, Rittenhouse and the three men he shot were in Kenosha during protests after police shot Jacob Blake, a Black man.
In the interview, Rittenhouse called Wood “insane” and said he was fired in part because he believed in QAnon conspiracies.
“(Wood) thinks he’s God,” Rittenhouse said. “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.”
Wood called Rittenhouse’s characterization of him “asinine” and said he didn’t know what QAnon was.
“That is insulting and mocking of God,” Wood said. He said he only talked to Rittenhouse twice, for fewer than five minutes each time.
Wood’s organization, the #FightBack Foundation, raised money for Rittenhouse’s $2 million bail. Wood told NewsNation he believes Rittenhouse may have been in jail longer without their help.
“FightBack got out when nobody else would be willing to do it and we raised the money,” Wood said. Pierce added he got Rittenhouse out of jail “the very morning” he received the $2 million.
“I don’t think anyone else could have done as much in so little time,” Pierce wrote in a statement.
Who should get the bail money now that Rittenhouse has been acquitted is in dispute.
The 18-year-old insisted multiple times during his interview that he does not want to be anyone’s political icon. After telling Fox News’ Tucker Carlson he supports the Black Lives Matter movement, he would only affirm his belief in their right to peacefully protest when Banfield asked.