WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he is “praying the verdict is the right verdict” in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin and that he believed the case, which has gone to the jury and put the nation on edge, to be “overwhelming.”
Biden, ahead of a meeting with lawmakers in the Oval Office, told reporters that he was only weighing in on the trial into the death of George Floyd, who died with Chauvin's knee on his neck, because the jury in the case had been sequestered. He confirmed that he called Floyd's family on Monday to offer prayers and said he “can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they’re feeling.”
Keep scrolling to see photos from Minneapolis as the city awaits a verdict
“They’re a good family and they’re calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is,” Biden said. "I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict. It’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now.”
The president has repeatedly denounced Floyd's death but had previously stopped short of weighing in on the trial itself. His comments came as his administration has been privately weighing how to handle the upcoming verdict, including considering whether Biden should address the nation and dispatching specially trained community facilitators from the Justice Department, aides and officials told The Associated Press.
The jury resumed deliberations Tuesday morning after spending a few hours Monday discussing the case behind closed doors. In closing arguments earlier in the day, a prosecutor told jurors that Chauvin “had to know” he was squeezing the life out of George Floyd as he cried over and over that he couldn’t breathe and finally fell silent. Chauvin faces murder and manslaughter charges.
The plans for possible presidential remarks are still fluid, with the timing, venue and nature of the remarks still being considered, in part depending on the timing of the verdict, according to two White House aides who were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
The White House has been warily watching the trial proceed in Minneapolis — and then another shooting of a Black man by a white police officer last week — and are preparing for the possibility of unrest if a guilty verdict is not reached in the trial. Biden may also speak after a guilty verdict, the White House aides said.
Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.