How exactly is this helpful? Other than to Joe Biden’s need to pander, that is?
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 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 because the jury in the case had been sequestered. He confirmed that he called Floyd’s family on Monday and said he “can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they’re feeling.”
“They’re a good family and they’re calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is,” Biden said.
Biden excuses this by noting that he didn’t say anything until the jury went into sequestration. Well, that’s just grand, but the jury isn’t the biggest public safety issue here. Crowds are gathering and protests increasing as the jury deliberates — the jury that actually sat through the evidence, testimony, and arguments, by the way, which doesn’t include one Joseph Robinette Biden. By claiming that the evidence was “overwhelming” and insinuating that the “right verdict” would follow his assessment of the case, Biden’s hiking expectations on the streets of the Twin Cities even higher than they already are.
What happens if the jury thinks the evidence isn’t quite so overwhelming? Or if their version of the “right verdict” doesn’t match the expectations set by Biden? This place will explode already in that circumstance, but having the president of the United States set those expectations will make it much worse if the results are disappointing to those crowds.
Plus, what happens if the jury hangs? Or if an appellate court finds a reason to throw out any verdict and order a new trial? Thanks to Biden and Maxine Waters, the chances of holding a fair second trial in the Twin Cities will be next to nil.
That’s why presidents, governors, and other elected officials should keep their opinions to themselves during high-profile trials. They have nothing formal to add to the process, and their efforts should instead be directed toward public safety and bolstering confidence in the process and system. Instead, Biden’s using it to promote himself– a shameful choice with so much at stake in Minneapolis and its environs.
Addendum: Had Biden been actually paying attention to the proceedings, he would have heard Judge Peter Cahill’s rebuke to politicians exploiting the trial for self-promotion:
“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something for appeal that may lead to this entire trial being overturned,” he told Chauvin’s attorney (who made clear he thinks it’s only one of the plausible appeal grounds).
Cahill added: “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 not] consistent with their oath to the Constitution … . Their failure to do so I think is abhorrent … .”
Addendum II: George W. Bush also weighed in on the trial in a much more helpful manner:
“I think the first thing is, Hoda, that people know that the trial has been conducted fairly. And that rule of law reigns supreme in our judiciary. We’ll see what a jury of his peers says, you know, I think a lot of people have already made up their mind what the verdict ought to be,” he told anchor Hoda Kotb.
“All I can tell you is that if the trial is not conducted fairly, there is an appeal process. One of the things that we learned after the storming of the Capitol was our institutions held, and one of the institutions that is really important for the confidence of the American people is a fair judicial system,” he continued.
That’s what Biden should have said as well.