Nov 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden on Rittenhouse verdict: "the jury has spoken"

Picture of Joe Biden

President Biden. Photo: Nic Antaya/Getty Images

President Biden on Friday reacted to Kyle Rittenhouse's not guilty verdict, saying that while it "will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken."

What he's saying: "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," Biden said, adding that federal authorities had been in contact with Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) "to prepare for any outcome."

  • "I have spoken with the Governor this afternoon and offered support and any assistance needed to ensure public safety."
  • "I ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us," Biden added.
  • "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."

Driving the news: Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all five counts in the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber during racial justice protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020

Vice President Kamala Harris said "[t]he verdict really speaks for itself."

  • "As many of you know, I've spent a majority of my career working to make the criminal justice system more equitable. And, clearly, there's a lot more work to do," she added.

The big picture: Other current and former Democratic officials condemned the verdict.

  • Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, called on the Justice Department to review the decision: "This heartbreaking verdict is a miscarriage of justice and sets a dangerous precedent which justifies federal review by DOJ."

State of play: Upon his arrival earlier Friday back to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he underwent a routine colonoscopy, Biden told reporters: "I stand by what the jury has concluded. The jury system works and we have to abide by it."

  • The president at the time declined to share whether he stands by an earlier suggestion that Rittenhouse is a white supremacist.
  • Biden said he just found out about the verdict and did not watch the trial.

Catch up quick: During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Biden tweeted a video that showed images of Rittenhouse carrying an AR-15. The then-presidential nominee said in the tweet: "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,"

  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the suggestion this week, and she declined to comment on "the president's past comments." She added that "we shouldn’t have, broadly speaking, vigilantes patrolling our communities with assault weapons."
Go deeper