Dem Nadler Calls on DOJ to Review Rittenhouse Verdict

Judiciary chairman calls not guilty verdict a 'miscarriage of justice'

Rep. Jerry Nadler
Rep. Jerry Nadler / Getty Images
November 19, 2021

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called on the Justice Department to review the not guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case, calling it a "miscarriage of justice."

Nadler pushed a debunked claim about Rittenhouse in his call for the federal review, saying that the teenager was "armed" when he crossed state lines to attend a protest in Kenosha, Wis., where he fatally shot two men and wounded another.

Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, said he shot the men in self-defense after they attacked and threatened him at a protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse, an Illinois native, claimed he went to Kenosha to protect small businesses from riots that erupted following Blake's shooting.

A jury acquitted Rittenhouse of all charges Friday. Nadler called the verdict "heartbreaking" and said it set a "dangerous precedent" that warranted federal review. He asserted that Rittenhouse crossed state lines "looking for trouble." He also suggested that Rittenhouse targeted people engaged in "First Amendment-protected protest."

Rittenhouse's critics claimed in the lead up to the trial that he acted as a vigilante, in part by crossing from Illinois to Wisconsin with his gun in tow. But the claim was debunked at trial. Rittenhouse, who testified in his own defense, said he picked up his gun at a friend's house in Kenosha after driving there from Illinois. The friend, Dominick Black, corroborated Rittenhouse's statement in his testimony as a witness for the prosecution.

Nadler did not specify which division of the Justice Department he wants to investigate the Rittenhouse case. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment. The criminal division would likely oversee any investigation involving transportation of firearms, while the civil rights division would be in charge of any probe into First Amendment rights violations by Rittenhouse.

Kristen Clarke, the head of the civil rights division, referred to Rittenhouse as a "white armed extremist" in a social media post last year. She called Rittenhouse a murderer in another post.