• Trump said he plans to meet with Kenosha law enforcement and various business owners affected by the protests
  • Trump will not meet with Jacob Blake or his family
  • The visit was proceeded by an interview where Trump defended protest shooter Kyle Rittenhouse and criticized Black Lives Matter protests

President Donald Trump is set to visit Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday to address the recent protests sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The visit follows what has been described as a “bizarre” interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News on Monday, when Trump attacked Black Lives Matter protesters, defended accused Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, and promoted conspiracy theories about Joe Biden.

“Currently the plans are to meet with local law enforcement and some business owners, and he'll survey the damage,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a press briefing Monday. “But there will be more detailed plans forthcoming when they're announced.”

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers asked Trump to cancel his visit in a letter on Sunday, fearing his presence would only cause tensions in Kenosha to intensify. The letter said:

“I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state. I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.”

“It is our job as elected officials to lead by example and to be a calming presence for the people we know are hurting, mourning, and trying to cope with trauma. Now is not the time for divisiveness. Now is not time for elected officials to ignore armed militants and out-of-state instigators who want to contribute to our anguish.”

Evers’ plea appears to have been ignored and Trump plans to move forward as planned. However, those worries appeared to be exacerbated by Trump’s Monday interview with Fox News, when he discussed the visit and the ongoing protests. He openly criticized the Black Lives Matter protesters and accused coverage of being bias for criticisms leveled at armed counter-protesters out to help “defend businesses.”

“You know it’s amazing, they want to protest, and they get criticized,” Trump said. “The other people run through the streets, burn down storefronts, hurt people, beat people and kill people.”

Trump defended Rittenhouse and other counter-protesters accused of escalating tensions, saying Rittenhouse was simply trying to defend himself when the protesters were shot.

“He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like,” Trump said, referencing videos of the shootings. “I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would have been killed.”

The videos don’t account for the first shooting where, according to reports, Rittenhouse shot a protester unprovoked. Videos pick up as Rittenhouse is trying to flee from protesters towards police when he falls and shoots the other two protesters.

Trump’s interview took a more bizarre turn from there as he claimed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was only encouraging the violence. The president said people from the “dark shadows” were manipulating Biden, who Trump said tried to sabotage the 2020 Republican National Convention. Even Ingraham said that sounded like a conspiracy theory.

“We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend,” Trump said. “And in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that.”

Kenosha became another flashpoint in the U.S. for racial injustice after Blake was shot seven times by a police officer responding to calls about a domestic dispute. Blake survived and is recovering in a local hospital, but his wounds left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Protests have been ongoing in Kenosha in the following week as protests turned chaotic for the first three nights. It culminated with the shooting of three protesters, two of whom were killed, allegedly by Kyle Rittenhouse, who was there to “offer aid” to police alongside local militia groups. Protests have since remained peaceful and Rittenhouse is in custody in Illinois on multiple murder charges.

Trump confirmed he will meet with business owners and law enforcement, but has no plans to visit the Blake family.

“Well, I spoke to the (family's) pastor and I thought it would be better not to do anything where there were lawyers involved,” Trump said during a press conference Monday. “They wanted me to speak. They wanted to have lawyers involved and I thought that was inappropriate, so I didn't do that. But I did speak with the pastor of the family.”

“I may at some point do that, but they did have a lawyer that wanted to be on the phone and I said no. That's inappropriate, but I did just give my best regards.”

Jacob Blake Sr., Blake’s father, and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the Blake family, confirmed this to CNN.

“I'm not going to play politics,” Blake Sr. told CNN. “This is my son's life we're talking about.”