Reporter breaks news to White House’s Jen Psaki of Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty verdict

‘The jury system works and we have to abide by that,’ Biden says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
,Eric Garcia
Friday 19 November 2021 21:23
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Related video: President Biden says he ‘stands by’ not guilty verdict in Kyle Rittenhouse trial

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was informed of the not guilty verdict for Kyle Rittenhouse by reporters during a press briefing.

Mr Rittenhouse was acquitted on all five charges on Friday, including reckless homicide and recklessly endangering safety.

Before the verdict was announced, one reporter asked Ms Psaki: “What is the president’s direct message to people who want to protest, express their opinions after the verdict, and might we hear from the president after there is a verdict?”

Ms Psaki said she wasn’t going to pre-judge the verdict.

“We have been in touch with officials on the ground, through law enforcement channels, to ensure we are supporting any effort toward peaceful protest,” she said. “That’s certainly what we will continue to encourage.”

Around 15 minutes later, reporters informed Ms Psaki of the verdict and asked for the administration’s response.

“Obviously, this happened while I was out here, so let me talk to the president, talk to our team, and we will get you a statement as soon as we can,” she said.

President Joe Biden said he stood by the Wisconsin jury finding Mr Rittenhouse not guilty of all charges.

“I stand by what the jury has concluded,” he told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. “The jury system works and we have to abide by that.”

Mr Biden later released a lengthier statement, repeating that the jury’s verdict must be honoured even if many people are angry.

“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,” he said.

The president also called on demonstrators to not resort to violence.

“I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law,” he said. “Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy.”

Mr Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all five counts in his homicide trial, including two first-degree homicide charges for the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber during anti-police violence protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin after police shot Jacob Blake, a Black man.

After the jury found him not guilty, some Republicans including Sen Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rep Thomas Massie of Kentucky criticised Mr Biden for suggesting that Mr Rittenhouse was a white supremacist.

New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “What we are witnessing is a system functioning as designed and protecting those it was designed for.”

“My heart still breaks for the communities and families whose grief now compounds, and the countless others who will be denied and deprived in similar scenes across the country,” she added.

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