President Joe Biden said he was “praying” for the jury to reach the “right verdict” in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin Tuesday after consoling the family of George Floyd.
Biden’s comments come as the jury in Chauvin’s trial sits in deliberation on the verdict for the second day. The trial wrapped up on Monday with closing arguments by the prosecution and defense before the jury was sent to deliberate on a verdict. The jury is also now sequestered, meaning they are staying in a hotel without access to news media for the deliberations process, according to CNBC News.
“I can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they are feeling, and so I waited until the jury is sequestered and I called,” Biden said, referring to a phone call he shared with Floyd’s family Monday. “I wasn’t going to say anything about it … it was a private conversation.”
“They’re a good family and they are calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is. I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is, I think it’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury is sequestered,” he continued.
Joe Biden on the Chauvin trial: "I'm praying the verdict is the right verdict, which I think is overwhelming in my view."pic.twitter.com/aJDQlZGHO4
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) April 20, 2021
Floyd’s brother Philonise revealed Tuesday morning on the TODAY Show that Biden had called Floyd’s family after the jury had moved to deliberate the final verdict. Philonise said that the president said he hoped “everything will come out to be OK.”
“He was just calling,” Philonise said. “He knows how it is to lose a family member, and he knows the process of what we’re going through. So he was just letting us know that he was praying for us, hoping that everything will come out to be OK.”
Biden’s comments come after Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) encouraged protesters to be “confrontational” should the jury be hung or vote to acquit Chauvin of charges related to Floyd’s death. Waters traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, over the weekend amid ongoing riots around the city in the wake of the fatal police shooting of a 20-year-old black man, Daunte Wright.
“We’re looking for a guilty verdict. We’re looking for a guilty verdict. And we’re looking to see if all of the talk that took place and has been taking place after they saw what happened to George Floyd,” Waters said alongside protesters over the Wright shooting. “If nothing does not happen, then we know, that we’ve got to not only stay in the street, but we’ve got to fight for justice, but I am very hopeful and I hope that we’re going to get a verdict that will say guilty, guilty, guilty. And if we don’t, we cannot go away.”
Asked what protesters should do if the verdict is anything other than guilty, Waters said: “Well, we’ve got to stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
Chauvin trial Judge Peter Cahill suggested that Waters’ comments could result in the “whole trial being overturned” on appeal should Chauvin be found guilty.
“Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Cahill told Chauvin’s defense attorney, responding to the attorney’s request for a mistrial.
“I’m aware that Congressman Waters was talking specifically about this trial, and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction, and talk about being confrontational,” Cahill continued. “But you can submit the press articles about that. This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning. 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.”