Biden 'praying' Chauvin jury reaches 'right verdict,' calling case 'overwhelming'

President offered support in Monday call with George Floyd family

As the nation awaits a verdict by the jury in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, President Biden said on Tuesday he is "praying the verdict is the right verdict."

Briefly speaking with reporters at the White House, the president discussed his call on Monday with the family of George Floyd, the Black man in Minnesota who died after he was seen on video – handcuffed – saying "I can't breathe" as Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck. His death sparked nationwide protests last spring and summer over police brutality against minorities and systemic racism.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death. He has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

PRESIDENT OFFERED SUPPORT IN MONDAY CALL WITH GEORGE FLOYD'S FAMILY

Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd said in an interview on NBC News early Tuesday morning that the president had called the Floyd family on Monday after the jury began deliberations in the trial.

President Biden speaks during a meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Biden speaks during a meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

"I can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they're feeling, and so I waited until the jury was sequestered, and I called," Biden explained. "I wasn't going to say anything about it, but Philonise said today on television, and he accurately said it was a private conversation because Joe understands what it was like to go through loss. They're a good family, and they're calling for peace and tranquility, no matter what that verdict is. I'm praying that verdict is the right verdict, which I think it's overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn't say that unless the jury was sequestered now."

Biden called the Floyd family last year – soon after Floyd's death, which came during the 2020 presidential election campaign – and later the then-presidential candidate traveled to Houston to meet with the family and express is condolences.

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On Monday, the judge in the Chauvin trial said that he wished elected officials would stop referencing the case "especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law" so as to let the judicial process play out as intended.

Judge Peter Cahill was referring to controversial comments over the weekend by Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, who urged protesters in Minnesota to "stay in the street" and "get more confrontational" if Chauvin is not found guilty.

"I'll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned," Cahill told Chauvin's attorney.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell criticized the comments by both Biden and Waters.

The longtime senator from Kentucky noted on Tuesday afternoon that "sometimes a fair trial is difficult to conduct" before emphasizing that "it is certainly not helpful for a member of Congress, and even the president of the U.S. to appear to be weighing in in public, while the jury is trying to sort through this significant case."

Asked about the president’s comments on the trial, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden doesn’t see that as "weighing in." 

"I don't think he would see it as weighing in on the verdict," Psaki highlighted. 

Psaki said the president "certainly is not looking to influence, but he has been touched by the impact on the family. Hence, he called the family yesterday and had that discussion. I expect he will weigh in further once there is a verdict."

Psaki reiterated that Biden chose to spoke out after the jury had been sequestered, and is currently deliberating a verdict.

Psaki declined to weigh in on Waters’ comments, adding that the California Democrat had "provided further clarification of her own remarks." Waters, in comments to The Grio, said she is a "non-violent person" and she's not worried about Republicans trying to "distort" her words. 

Biden's comments drew a swift reaction from some pundits, including former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis, who tweeted, "RIP due process."