The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee blasted the verdict released on Friday in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse and called for the Justice Department to review the court decision.
Rep Jerry Nadler’s remarks veered sharply from the message issued by President Joe Biden, who unlike progressives said that he respected the jury’s decision.
Mr Nadler tweeted after Mr Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges that the verdict was a “miscarriage of justice” that “sets a dangerous precedent which justifies federal review by DOJ.”
“Justice cannot tolerate armed persons crossing state lines looking for trouble while people engage in First Amendment-protected protest,” argued the senior House Democrat.
This heartbreaking verdict is a miscarriage of justice and sets a dangerous precedent which justifies federal review by DOJ. Justice cannot tolerate armed persons crossing state lines looking for trouble while people engage in First Amendment-protected protest. https://t.co/Uh95Uc1Ddo— Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) November 19, 2021
It’s not clear exactly how a Justice Department review of the case would play out, as the agency only has the power to investigate law enforcement agencies. It has no power to “intervene on matters of state law”, according to its own website.
Mr Biden moments earlier had addressed the jury’s decision on the White House lawn, telling reporters: “I stand by what the jury has concluded. The jury system works and we have to abide by it."
In a lengthier statement released minutes later by the White House, the president offered a slightly different tone, claiming that he felt “angry and concerned” by the verdict while urging protesters to remain peaceful.
“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,” Mr Biden continued.
The Judiciary chair’s statement was more in line with progressives in the House such as Rashida Tlaib, who said that Friday’s news was evidence that the American justice system “protects white supremacy”.
Mr Rittenhouse’s trial occurred as a separate court is debating the fate of three white men charged with chasing down and murdering a Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia.
Mr Biden himself previously referred to Mr Rittenhouse in a video about white supremacism in the US; he demurred on Friday when asked if he stood by that characterisation.
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