White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House has been in communication with law enforcement channels to ensure that whatever protests occur following the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict remain "peaceful."
Ahead of the anticipated verdict, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced last Friday that he has authorized around 500 Wisconsin Army National Guard troops to support law enforcement authorities policing expected protests in Kenosha.
During a press conference just minutes before the Rittenhouse verdict, Psaki was asked about what the president's direct message would be to those who want to protest or express themselves following the decision.
"Well ... I'm not going to prejudge a verdict on an ongoing deliberation over a case. And clearly, once it's concluded, I'm sure there will be something we have to say from the White House. We've been in close touch with officials on the ground through law enforcement channels to ensure we're supporting any effort towards peaceful protest. That's certainly what we continue to encourage, as anyone wants to have their voice heard, regardless of the outcome," Psaki said.
Roughly half an hour after Psaki's comments, the jury cleared Rittenhouse of all charges. No comment has been made by the White House at the time of publication.
Previously, President Joe Biden tweeted in September 2020 when he was a presidential candidate, "There's no other way to put it: the President of the United States [former President Donald Trump] refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night." The tweet was accompanied by a photo of Rittenhouse.
Biden has some history of making comments on cases that have yet to reach a verdict. In April, the president said that he was "praying for the right verdict" in the Derek Chauvin trial. "I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is—I think it’s overwhelming, in my view," Biden said in the Oval Office. "I wouldn’t say that unless the—the jury was sequestered now and not hearing me say that."
Psaki would later have to clear up Biden's comments, saying:
"I don't think he would see it as weighing in on the verdict. He was conveying what many people are feeling across the country, which is compassion for the family. What a difficult time this is. What a difficult time this is for many Americans across the country who have been watching this trial very closely. The jury is sequestered. That is different from where things stood just yesterday, and he noted that in his comments as well," Psaki added.
"I think what people should conclude is that the president, like many Americans, has been deeply impacted by the trial," she said. "He was deeply impacted by his conversation with the Floyd family yesterday, that he understands that people are exhausted, that they're tired, that this type of violence and trauma we've seen around the country and continued to see over the past couple of weeks. And hopefully, that's what they take away from his comments."