Washington, Apr 20 (EFE).- President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he hopes that the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin over death of African American George Floyd will be the “correct” one, even as the jury deliberated on the former cop’s guilt or innocence.
In remarks to reporters in the Oval Office, Biden made the clearest statement so far regarding Chauvin’s trial, saying that he had waited to say anything until the jury was sequestered and was discussing in isolation what verdict to render.
“I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is – I think it’s overwhelming in my view,” the president said without clarifying whether he was referring to the evidence presented against Chauvin or to the case itself.
Biden’s comments are extraordinary because presidents do not usually weigh in on the result of a trial and they come one day after the judge presiding in the case, Peter Cahill, asked US politicians to stop speaking about it.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tried to defend Biden’s remarks at her daily press conference on Tuesday, saying that he was not intending to comment directly upon the verdict but rather to express “compassion” for Floyd’s family.
“As he also noted, the jury is sequestered which is why he spoke to this, but I would expect he will weigh in more – further once there is a verdict and I’m not going to provide additional analysis on what he meant,” said Psaki.
Biden was only calling, she said, to “check in with (Floyd’s family members) and also share that the family was in his prayers,” adding that “he certainly is not looking to influence” the trial.
Biden’s remarks come amid an avalanche of criticism from the Republican opposition of Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who on the weekend said that demonstrators should “get more confrontational” if Chauvin is found not guilty, although later she said that she was not intending to foment violence.
The president on Monday spoke by telephone with the family of Floyd, whose death in May 2020 went viral around the world thanks to a video showing Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes after Floyd had been handcuffed and was lying on the pavement.
In brief remarks on Tuesday, Biden said “I can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they are feeling. And so I waited until the jury was sequestered, and I called.”
Biden went on to say that he was calling for peace and calm, no matter what the jury’s verdict may be.
Floyd’s younger brother, Philonise Floyd, told NBC that he appreciated Biden’s call because “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 lost his first wife, Neilia, and 1-year-old daughter Naomi in a 1972 car crash and his son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015.
The jury in the trial has been isolated – or sequestered – since Monday in a Minneapolis hotel and must unanimously decide whether Chauvin is guilty or not guilty of the three charges he is facing in Floyd’s death.
The final phase of the trial is occurring amid growing tension in the US after the police shooting death of 20-year-old African American Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, and the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago in recent weeks.