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Biden Ignores Derek Chauvin’s Trial Judge, Comments on Verdict While Jury Deliberates


President Joe Biden (D) on Tuesday ignored the advice of the judge overseeing the murder trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin and commented on the case as the jury was deliberating.

In recorded remarks, Biden said he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict” in the first trial seeking to assign criminal legal blame for the death of George Floyd, Jr.

Biden then went further.

“It’s overwhelming in my view,” the president said of the outcome. “I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now,” he added.

Biden said he called George Floyd’s family yesterday and engaged in a “private conversation.” He reiterated that the Floyd family called for “peace and tranquility not matter what that verdict is.”

“I wanted to know how they were doing personally,” the president said. “We talked about personal things.”

Yesterday, Judge Peter Cahill chastised politicians, such as Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), for speaking about the case.

“We’ve got to stay on the street, and we’ve got to get more active,” Waters said. “We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

“I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function,” Cahill said. “I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said she would introduce a resolution to expel Waters over the comment.

Also yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki suggested the White House was going to stay quiet about the legal issue of Chauvin’s guilt or innocence as deliberations were ongoing. This was her response to a question about whether the federal government was helping local officials prepare for possible violence — if any — when the verdicts were read:

Well, first, let me say, as you all know, the jury is deliberating, will come back with a verdict — or they will be deliberating, I should say. After the closing arguments today, they’ll come back with a verdict, and we’re not going to get ahead of those deliberations. I’m not suggesting you’re asking that, but I just wanted to restate that.

We — what I can say is, broadly speaking, we are in touch with mayors, governors, local authorities. Of course, our objective is to ensure there is a space for peaceful protest; that, you know, we encour- — we continue to convey that while this country has gone through an extensive period — especially the Black community — of pain, trauma, and exhaustion, as we’ve watched these — not just the trial, but, of course, additional violence against their community over the past several weeks, we — it’s important to acknowledge that and elevate that at every opportunity we have.

But in terms of your question, Jonathan, we’re in touch with local authorities. We’re in touch with states, with governors, with mayors. And certainly, you know, we will continue to encourage peaceful protests, but we’re not going to get ahead of the verdict in the trial.

Psaki backtracked Tuesday by suggesting Biden’s comments were okay given that the jury was sequestered.

Biden’s comments were roundly criticized by legal observers of many different political stripes — and especially by conservatives. Here’s a roundup of some of the reaction:

Below is the core text of what Biden said:

I’ve come to know George’s family, uh, not just in passing.  I’ve spent time with them.  I’ve spent time with his little daughter, Gianna — you should see this beautiful child, oh!  And, uh, his brother, both brothers, as a matter of fact.  And, uh, so, um, I can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they’re feeling, and so, uh, I waited until the jury was sequestered, and, uh, and I called.  And, as, I wasn’t going to say anything about it, but, as Philonise said today on television, they accurately said, it was a private conversation, because, uh, Joe understands what it’s like to go through loss.  And, um, they’re a good family, and they’re calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is.  I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict; which is — it’s overwhelming in my view.  I wouldn’t say that unless the — the jury was sequestered.

This is a breaking news report which has been updated.

[image via NBC News screengrab]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.