When asked by a reporter Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden would not be apologizing for characterizing Kyle Rittenhouse as a “white supremacist.”
“This is about a campaign video released last year that used President Trump’s own words during a debate as he refused to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and [former] President [Donald] Trump, as we know from history, and as many of you covered, didn’t just refuse to condemn militia groups on the debate stage, he encouraged them throughout his presidency,” she said during the press briefing Tuesday.
“So, you know, what we’ve seen are the tragic consequences of that – when people think it’s OK to take the law into their own hands instead of allowing law enforcement to do its job,” she said. “And the president believes in condemning hatred, division, and violence. That’s exactly what was done in that video.”
Rittenhouse was acquitted for killing two rioters and injuring a third in self-defense during the Kenosha, Wisconsin, riots in August 2020.
During the 2020 campaign, Biden used the video to attack Trump for not condemning white supremacists, the main reason Biden said he entered the race for and alleging Rittenhouse was part of a “militia” that went across state lines to be part of the riots.
He later doubled down on that characterization of Rittenhouse, although admitting he was not “exactly sure what” Rittenhouse did.
“I don’t know enough to know whether that 17-year-old kid, exactly what he did,” Fox News reported Biden said in August 2020. “Allegedly he’s part of a militia coming out in the state of Illinois. Have you ever heard the President (Trump) say one negative thing about white supremacists? Have you ever heard it?”
Biden’s claims were contradicted by evidence and testimony at the trial where a jury found Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges last week.
At first, Biden told reporters America should “respect” the verdict, but later walked that back in a statement.
“While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken,” his statement Nov. 19 said. “I ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”
Since the verdict, several top Democrats have publicly opposed the verdict, citing “facts” that were disproven at the trial, claiming Rittenhouse “crossed state lines” from Illinois to Wisconsin with his weapon when, according to the testimony and evidence during the trial, the gun was kept in Wisconsin.