President Joe Biden acknowledged the highly anticipated outcome of the Derek Chauvin trial on Tuesday, saying that he is “praying the verdict is the right verdict.”
“I think it’s overwhelming in my view,” the president said of the evidence, adding that he was only saying this now because the jury is currently sequestered as it deliberates.
Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, is currently facing three charges in the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old man who was restrained by police after being accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. Bystander footage from the scene of the arrest showed Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Philonise Floyd, George’s younger brother, said on NBC’s Today that his family received a call from Biden on Monday, the day of the trial’s closing arguments.
“He was just calling. 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 and hoping that everything would come out to be okay,” he said.
Biden confirmed the call during the press availability in the Oval Office, saying it was a private conversation that he hadn’t planned on mentioning.
“I’ve come to know George’s family, not just in passing. I’ve spent time with them,” Biden said, mentioning Floyd’s brothers and his daughter Gianna. “I can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they’re feeling, and so I waited till the jury was sequestered and then I called.”
“They’re a good family and they’re calling for peace and tranquility, no matter what that verdict is,” he added.
The jury is currently in its second day of deliberation after taking in three weeks’ worth of testimony and evidence during the trial against Chauvin. Biden’s comments have received criticism from those who see the president as using his political office to advocate for one particular outcome in the case.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president has been watching the trial closely “as many Americans have been.”
“He was moved by his conversations with the family yesterday. He knows the family and as somebody who has been impacted by grief himself, that was a large part of their conversation,” Psaki said.
As to what Biden found to be “overwhelming” regarding the case, Psaki said, “We’re not gonna get ahead of the outcome. I expect when there is a verdict, he will have more to say.”