Kyle Rittenhouse Says Proud Boys Meeting Was a 'Set Up'

Kyle Rittenhouse has denied he has links to far-right group Proud Boys, claiming his meeting with members at a Wisconsin bar was "set up" by one of his former attorneys.

Speaking on Tuesday, days after being acquitted of murder charges, Rittenhouse said lawyer John Pierce "arranged" the meeting at a bar in on January 5 to arrange security.

Rittenhouse, who turned 18 two days earlier, was seen drinking and being serenaded by members of the Proud Boys at Pudgy's Pub in Mount Pleasant, soon after he pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. He wore a t-shirt with the message: "Free as f**k."

Rittenhouse also posed for pictures while flashing the OK hand gesture, a symbol that has been co-opted by the far-right as a sign to show support for white supremacy.

In an interview with NewsNation on Tuesday, Rittenhouse said: "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."

In a statement to Newsweek, Pierce denied that he was solely responsible for Rittenhouse meeting up with the Proud Boys.

"While I certainly suggested that Kyle and his family needed security in the aftermath of the shooting, and I spoke with several people who had reached out directly to the family offering security, David Hancock, who is the family spokesman, handled the organization and selection of security personnel," Pierce said.

With regards to the photo released by the prosecution showing Rittenhouse giving the OK hand symbol, Pierce added: "I was not present and was not responsible for the photo, I was actually in another state during that outing."

Prior to his murder trial, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said the the prosecution could not attempt to make any links between Rittenhouse and the Proud Boys during proceedings.

His lawyers said there is no proof that Rittenhouse has any connections to far-right or white supremacist groups.

"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," Rittenhouse said on Tuesday.

"I found out they were Proud Boys when I saw the headlines. I thought they were just a bunch of construction dudes based on how they looked."

During a daily press briefing on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden would not be apologizing for previous remarks linking Rittenhouse to white supremacy.

Asked by Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy about statements made by Biden that Rittenhouse was "part of a militia coming out of Illinois," Psaki said: "The president spoke to the verdict last week, he has obviously condemned the hatred and division and violence that we've seen around the country by groups like the Proud Boys, and groups that [Rittenhouse] has posed in photos with."

Kyle Rittenhouse  proud boys
Kyle Rittenhouse was seen drinking at Pudgy's Pub in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, with Proud Boys members soon after pleading not guilty to the charges against him. Kenosha County Circuit Court

Update 11/25: This article has been updated with comment from John Pierce.