Washington, DC – The White House released a statement late on Friday afternoon that said President Joe Biden was “angry and concerned” about the not guilty verdict in the murder trial of 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse.
A Kenosha County jury found Rittenhouse not guilty on Nov. 19 of all five of the felony charges against him.
President Biden stopped to talk with reporters after his colonoscopy on Nov. 19 and said he had just heard about the verdict, The Hill reported.
The President told reporters that he hadn’t watched any of the murder trial of Rittenhouse, who killed two men and wounded a third with an AR-15 during the Jacob Blake riots in Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020.
Rittenhouse claimed he shot all three men in self-defense and took the stand to testify in his own defense during the trial.
The President was asked what he thought of the acquittal, The Hill reported.
“Well look, I stand by what the jury has concluded,” President Biden told reporters. “The jury system works and we have to abide by it.”
He declined to comment on whether he stood behind a tweet he posted as a Presidential candidate that suggested Rittenhouse was a white supremacist, according to The Hill.
The White House was quick to put out a lengthier, official statement after his off-the-cuff remarks that sympathized with those who were upset about the verdict, CNBC reported.
“While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken,” the statement from President Biden read.
“I ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us,” it continued.
“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 read.
The White House also called for calm in Kenosha in the wake of the verdict, CNBC reported.
“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,” the statement read. “The White House and Federal authorities have been in contact with Governor [Tony] Evers’s office to prepare for any outcome in this case, and I have spoken with the Governor this afternoon and offered support and any assistance needed to ensure public safety.”
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers activated 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops a week ago to provide backup for local law enforcement in the event of riots.
Chicago police have also cancelled days off in anticipation of civil unrest.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made no attempt to hide his disgust with the not guilty verdict on Friday afternoon.
“Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum are victims,” de Blasio tweeted. “They should be alive today. The only reason they’re not is because a violent, dangerous man chose to take a gun across state lines and start shooting people.”
“To call this a miscarriage of justice is an understatement,” the mayor added.
After Twitter users pointed out to the mayor that his tweet was factually inaccurate, he accused them of being “far-right trolls” and said that they are “missing the point.”
The far-right trolls who think it makes a difference whether a violent gunman got his weapon before or after he crossed state lines are missing the point: two people are dead and their killer is left unaccountable. That’s not justice and they know it.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 19, 2021
Testimony during the trial proved that Rittenhouse never took a gun across state lines.
Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes blamed veteran Kenosha Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder after the jury brought back not guilty verdicts for all five of the felonies Rittenhouse had been charged with, The Independent reported.
Barnes said Schroeder “virtually demanded” the not guilty verdict from the Kenosha County jury.
“Over the last few weeks, many dreaded the outcome we just witnessed,” the lieutenant governor said in a statement.
But legal expert Alan Dershowitz said that anybody who watched the trial shouldn’t have been surprised by the jury’s verdict.
Those who watched the actual Rittenhouse trial on television should not have been surprised at the not guilty verdict. But those who got their information about the trial from biased commentators on CNN or CNBC may well have been shocked and surprised.
— Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) November 19, 2021
Dershowitz allowed, however, that people who got their news from CNN or CNBC were probably very confused by the verdict.