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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden blamed President Trump today for escalating violence at protests in cities across the country, while condemning the destructive elements of the racial justice demonstrations that he said are counterproductive to the cause.

Speaking from a steel mill in Pittsburgh, Biden laid the blame for the civil unrest in the country squarely on Trump, saying the president has inflamed tensions that have been roiling since the police killing of George Floyd in May.

“This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country,” Biden said. “He can’t stop the violence because for years he’s fomented it.”

The former vice president, under pressure from Trump and some Democrats to address the destructive elements of the protests that have left some cities in ruin, forcefully condemned rioting and looting and pressed for calm.

“I want to be very clear about all of this — rioting is not protesting,” Biden said. “Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted. Violence will not bring change, it will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way, it divides instead of unites.”

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