Psaki slammed for JUSTIFYING Biden's 'White supremacist' comment on Rittenhouse
Rittenhouse, 18, was widely branded as a White supremacist after he fatally shot two White people at a Black Lives Matter protest last year.
White House Press Sec. Jen Psaki deflected a question about whether President Joe Biden would apologize to Kyle Rittenhouse for suggesting he was a White supremacist following Friday's 'not guilty' verdict. Psaki instead pointed to former President Donald J. Trump's refusal to condemn White supremacy.
Rittenhouse, 18, was widely branded as a White supremacist after he fatally shot two White people at a Black Lives Matter protest. He spent almost three months in jail for the shooting before he was cleared on Friday, November 19, of homicide, attempted homicide, and reckless endangerment in the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 27.
"Would the president ever apologize to the acquitted Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse for suggesting online and on TV that he is a White supremacist?" Fox News' Peter Doocy asked Psaki at a daily briefing on Tuesday, November 23. She responded by saying, "President Trump ... didn't just refuse to condemn militia groups on the debate stage he actively encouraged them throughout his presidency. So what we've seen are the tragic consequences of that - when people think it's okay to take the law into their own hands instead of allowing law enforcement to do its job."
"The president spoke to the verdict last week," Psaki continued. "He has obviously condemned the hatred and division and violence from groups like the Proud Boys, and obviously, that individual has posed in photos with, but beyond that, I'll leave it to his comments around the verdict," she added.
Peter Doocy asks Jen Psaki if Biden would ever apologize for calling Kyle Rittenhouse a “White Supremacist” after Rittenhouse said the President defamed his character in an interview with Tucker last night. pic.twitter.com/rCKLchlSy7— Benny (@bennyjohnson) November 23, 2021
Social media slams press secretary
Jen Paski's refusal to retract Biden's characterizations of Rittenhouse as White supremacist despite his acquittal by a 12-person jury was met with harsh criticism online. Many even suggested Rittenhouse should sue Psaki.
"Newly-acquitted #KyleRittenhouse could sue White House press secretary #JenPsaki for #defamation, following her claim Tuesday that he was linked to the #ProudBoys and her implication that he was a violent “white supremacist.” "— The RIGHTFUL President Hawger! (@RB26416392) November 24, 2021
That was pstupid of #Psaki.
Because someone came up to Kyle Rittenhouse and took a selfie with him, doesn't mean he was in any way, shape or form affiliated with them. That in itself was yet another smear against Rittenhouse— CovfefeForT (@MeBeHealthy) November 24, 2021
Biden absolutely called a 17 year old boy a white supremacists at a time where Kyle couldn’t speak for or defend himself. Biden is responsible fueling the fire with the Kyle rittenhouse case. These were baseless claims brought on by speculation. I hope they sue tf out of Biden.— Jacqueline Rodriguez (@JacquelineRod) November 24, 2021
Rittenhouse accuses Biden of 'malice'
Following his acquittal, Rittenhouse told Fox News's Tucker Carlson that he laid some of the blame for the widespread vitriol against him on Biden, who he accused of "defamation" and "malice," and said he's considering legal action against the president. This came after jurors decided that the teenager had opened fire purely in self-defense as the trio chased and attacked him during the August 2020 riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that was sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black male.
Months before the 2020 election, then-candidate Biden tweeted a video montage of apparent far-right groups who Trump was forced to condemn during a presidential debate. "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," Biden tweeted on September 30, 2020, sharing a clip that showed Rittenhouse alongside neo-Nazis marching through Charlottesville and the Proud Boys.
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. pic.twitter.com/Q3VZTW1vUV— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 30, 2020
"I don't know enough to know whether that 17-year-old kid, exactly what he did, but allegedly he's part of a militia coming out of the state of Illinois," Biden later told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "Have you ever heard this president say one negative thing about White supremacists? Have you ever heard it? That's the reason I got back in this race because of what happened in Charlottesville."
During the Rittenhouse trial that lasted from November 2 to 19, Psaki was asked if Biden regretted his tweet. "What I'm not going to speak to right now is anything about an ongoing trial nor the president's past comments," she said, despite the president commenting on the case before it was litigated. "What I can reiterate for you is the president's view that we shouldn't have, broadly speaking, vigilantes patrolling our communities with assault weapons. We shouldn't have opportunists corrupting peaceful protests by rioting and burning down the communities they claim to represent – anywhere in the country," she added.
Following Friday's verdict, Biden tweeted that he was "angry and concerned" but insisted that the verdict must be respected. "While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken," he said. "I ran on a promise to bring Americans together because 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." He added, "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."
While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken. My full statement: https://t.co/mx51kR6ZUh— President Biden (@POTUS) November 19, 2021
Rittenhouse urged the President Monday night to have another look at the case. "Mr. President, if I would say one thing to you, I would urge you to go back and watch the trial, and understand the facts before you make a statement," he said on Carlson's show. "It's actual malice, defaming my character for him to say something like that. It's quite hysterical how nobody can go back and look at the facts of the case. He crossed state lines, false. He's a White supremacist, false. None of that is true. The lies that they can get away with spreading are just sickening and it's a disgrace to this country."
Rittenhouse revealed he had "really good lawyers" looking into potential defamation charges, adding that the incident "never had anything to do with race" and was indeed about "the right to self-defense." He continued, "I'm not a racist person. I support the BLM movement. I support peacefully demonstrating ... I believe there needs to be change. I believe there's a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, not just in my case but in other cases. It's just amazing to see how much a prosecutor can take advantage of someone." He added, "Like if they did this to me, imagine what they could have done to a person of color who doesn't maybe have the resources I do or it's not widely publicized like my case.