Asked if President Biden would apologize to Kyle Rittenhouse for suggesting he was a white supremacist, press secretary Jen Psaki deflected to President Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacy.
‘Would the president ever apologize to the acquitted Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse for suggesting online and on TV that he is a white supremacist?’ Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Psaki in a daily briefing.
‘President Trump … didn’t just refuse to condemn militia groups on the debate stage he actively encouraged them throughout his presidency,’ Psaki replied.
‘So what we’ve seen are the tragic consequences of that – when people think it’s okay to take the law into their own hands instead of allowing law enforcement to do its job.’
Psaki continued: ‘The president spoke to the verdict last week. He has obviously condemned the hatred and division and violence from groups like the Proud Boys, and obviously that individual has posed in photos with, but beyond that I’ll leave it to his comments around the verdict.’
During the trial, prosecutors presented a photo of Rittenhouse as evidence of him consorting with white supremacists, citing the use of the ‘OK’ sign, which has been co-opted as a sign of ‘white power.’ The photo at a bar in Wisconsin was from Jan. 5, 2021, the day he arraigned on charges related to the killing of two people at an August protest in Kenosha.
Rittenhouse, who was widely branded as a white supremacist after he fatally shot two white people at a Black Lives Matter protest, told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson after his acquittal that he laid some of the blame for the vitriol against him on President Biden, who he accused of of ‘defamation’ and ‘malice.’ He said he is considering legal action against the president.
‘President Trump … didn’t just refuse to condemn militia groups on the debate stage he actively encouraged them throughout his presidency,’ Psaki said
Rittenhouse said he laid some of the blame for the vitriol against him on President Biden, who he accused of of ‘defamation’ and ‘malice.’
Rittenhouse is comforted by his lawyer as he was acquitted of all charges at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Friday
In this image from video provided by the Kenosha County District Attorney, Kyle Rittenhouse poses for a photo at Pudgy’s Pub in Mount Pleasant, Wis., on Jan. 5, 2021, the day he was arraigned on charges related to the killing of two people at an August protest in Kenosha. Prosecutors presented this photo and others as evidence of Rittenhouse consorting with white supremacists, citing the use of the ‘OK’ sign, which has been co-opted as a sign of ‘white power.’
Rittenhouse is shown during a Jan. 5 visit to Pudgy’s bar in Mount Pleasant. Kenosha County prosecutors have requested to modify Kyle Rittenhouse’s bond after he was spotted at a Racine County bar last week drinking beer and flashing white power signs
The 18-year-old, who spent almost three months in jail for the shooting, was cleared on Friday of homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangerment in the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 27.
Jurors decided the rifle-wielding teen opened fire in self-defense as the trio chased and attacked him during the August 2020 riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black male.
On September 30, 2020, Biden, then the Democratic candidate, tweeted a video montage of far-right groups who Donald Trump the day before, during a presidential debate, refused to condemn.
Biden tweeted an attack on Trump, stating: ‘There’s no other way to put it: the President of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night.’
The tweet showed Rittenhouse, featured alongside the neo-Nazis marching through Charlotte and Proud Boys.
And in a 2020 interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Biden said: ‘I don’t know enough to know whether that 17-year-old kid, exactly what he did, but allegedly he’s part of a militia coming out of the state of Illinois. Have you ever heard this president say one negative thing about white supremacists? Have you ever heard it? That’s the reason I got back in this race because what happened in Charlottesville.’
Biden shared a video clip on Twitter denouncing white supremacists that including a photo of Rittenhouse wielding a gun
Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum (left), 36, with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle after Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse across a parking lot and threw a plastic bag at him shortly before midnight on August 25, 2020. Moments later, as Rittenhouse was running down a street, he shot and killed Anthony Huber (right), 26, a protester from Silver Lake, Wisconsin
Rittenhouse is seen on the night of August 25, 2020 in Kenosha
During the trial – which ran from November 2-19 – Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, was asked if Biden regretted his tweet.
‘What I’m not going to speak to right now is anything about an ongoing trial nor the president’s past comments,’ Psaki said, even though the president commented on the situation before it was litigated.
‘What I can reiterate for you is the president’s view that we shouldn’t have, broadly speaking, vigilantes patrolling our communities with assault weapons.
‘We shouldn’t have opportunists corrupting peaceful protests by rioting and burning down the communities they claim to represent – anywhere in the country.’
After Friday’s verdict, Biden said he was ‘angry and concerned’, but insisted that the verdict should be respected.
‘While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken,’ he said.
‘I ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. I know that we’re not going to heal our country’s wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law.
‘I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law. Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy.’
Rittenhouse on Monday night said that he wanted Biden to take another look at the case.
‘Mr President, if I would say one thing to you, I would urge you to go back and watch the trial, and understand the facts before you make a statement,’ he said.
‘It’s actual malice, defaming my character for him to say something like that.
‘It’s quite hysterical how nobody can go back and look at the facts of the case.
‘He crossed state lines, false. He’s a white supremacist, false. None of that is true.
‘The lies that they can get away with spreading just sickening and it’s a disgrace to this country.’
Rittenhouse said he had ‘really good lawyers’ who were looking into defamation charges.
The teen said the incident ‘never had anything to do with race’ and was instead about ‘the right to self-defense.’
‘I’m not a racist person. I support the BLM movement,’ Rittenhouse said. ‘I support peacefully demonstrating … I believe there needs to be change. I believe there’s a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, not just in my case but in other cases. It’s just amazing to see how much a prosecutor can take advantage of someone.’
‘Like, if they did this to me, imagine what they could have done to a person of color who doesn’t maybe have the resources I do or it’s not widely publicized like my case,’ he said.