Trump Responds to Biden’s Speech on Violent Protests

August 31, 2020 Updated: August 31, 2020

President Donald Trump on Monday evening criticized former Vice President Joe Biden for failing to condemn far-left agitators and Antifa extremists during a speech in which the Democratic presidential nominee condemned violent protests.

“The violent rioters share Biden’s same talking points, and they share his same agenda for our nation. And even his strange speech today that he made in Pittsburgh, he didn’t mention the fact, and he didn’t mention the far left. He didn’t mention the far left, or, from what I saw, I don’t believe he mentioned the word ‘Antifa.’ Antifa is a criminal organization, and he didn’t mention Antifa thugs, but mostly seemed to blame the police and law enforcement,” the president told reporters during a press conference at the White House.

“For months, Joe Biden has given moral aid and comfort to the vandals, repeating the monstrous lie that these were peaceful protests. They’re not peaceful protests. That’s anarchy,” Trump said. “You look at the agitators, you look at the looters, you look at the rioters—that’s not a peaceful protest.”

The former vice president—who had previously condemned violent protests on several occasions in May, June, July, and August—issued a written statement on Sunday and delivered a speech on the topic in Pittsburgh.

Biden Replies

Biden issued a response to Trump’s criticism in a statement not long after the president spoke to reporters.

“Today, I traveled to Pittsburgh to explain how the President was making America less safe—on COVID, on the economy, on crime, on racism, on violence—and reiterated my clear message that violence is not the answer to any of these problems,” he said.

“Tonight, the President declined to rebuke violence. He wouldn’t even repudiate one of his supporters who is charged with murder because of his attacks on others. He is too weak, too scared of the hatred he has stirred to put an end to it,” the former vice president added, referring to Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager who shot two people to death in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in what Trump said was an act of self defense.

“So once again, I urge the President to join me in saying that while peaceful protest is a right—a necessity—violence is wrong, period. No matter who does it, no matter what political affiliation they have. Period. If Donald Trump can’t say that, then he is unfit to be President, and his preference for more violence—not less—is clear.”

Biden did not mention the Trump supporter who was allegedly murdered by an Antifa extremist over the weekend in Portland.

During his speech earlier in the day, Biden said the violence won’t stop if Trump wins a second term.

Trump plans to visit Kenosha on Tuesday, though details of the trip remain under wraps. Unrest began in Kenosha on Aug. 23 after a police officer shot Jacob Blake who was resisting arrest for violating a restraining order stemming from an alleged sexual assault.

Rioters, many of whom traveled from out of town, burned and looted buildings and businesses for three consecutive nights. The unrest culminated in the fatal shooting of two protesters on Aug. 25. Rittenhouse was later charged with murder.

Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov