President Joe Biden said Friday he stands by the not-guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, saying the jury system of trial in the United States works and must be respected.
“Look, I stand by what the jury has concluded,” he said. “The jury system works, and we have to abide by it.”
Rittenhouse, the teenager who killed two people and shot another during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was acquitted Friday of first-degree intentional homicide and four other felony charges. The panel of five men and seven women deliberated more than 25 hours over the past four days in a closely watched case. The verdict cannot be appealed.
The President made the comments upon returning to the White House after a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that lasted more than five hours, where he received a routine physical and a colonoscopy.
“I just heard a moment ago,” Biden said, when asked about Rittenhouse being found not guilty on all counts. “I didn’t watch the trial.”
In a statement later Friday afternoon, Biden acknowledged that the verdict in the trial “will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included.” He said that everyone “must acknowledge that the jury has spoken.”
In a statement released by the White House Friday afternoon, Biden said he “ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”
“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,” the statement reads.
Biden also encouraged protesters to “express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law.”
“Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy,” the statement adds.
The President has also spoken with the Wisconsin governor this afternoon and “offered support and any assistance needed to ensure public safety.”
Asked by reporters as he turned to the White House if he stood by his past comments equating Rittenhouse to a white supremacist, Biden didn’t directly answer. In September 2020 then-presidential candidate Biden tweeted a video that included Rittenhouse carrying a rifle with the caption: “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 video was meant to criticize then-President Donald Trump.
When asked on Monday why Biden previously tweeted a video that suggested Rittenhouse is a white supremacist, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “What I’m not going to speak to right now is anything about an ongoing trial nor the President’s past comments. What I can reiterate is the President’s view is that we shouldn’t have, broadly speaking, vigilantes patrolling our communities with assault weapons. We shouldn’t have opportunists corrupting peaceful protest by rioting and burning down the communities they claim to represent anywhere in the country.”
This story has been updated with additional reporting.
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