- Sen. Ted Cruz said Tuesday that President Biden’s comments on Derek Chauvin provided potential grounds for a mistrial.
- President Biden commented on the trial while the jury had announced its verdict.
- Cruz said Biden was ‘foolishly providing grounds for a mistrial or a possible basis on appeal to challenge any guilty conviction.’
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
President Biden’s comments about the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who was convicted of murdering George Floyd, provided potential “grounds for a mistrial,” Senator Ted Cruz claimed on Tuesday.
Biden had commented on the trial as the jury deliberated on its verdict, saying: “I’m praying that the verdict is the right verdict, which I think, it’s overwhelming in my view,” to reporters at the White House on Tuesday.
Chauvin was subsequently convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
President Biden noted that he had waited until the jury sequestered before making the comments. “I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now, not hearing me say that,” he said.
However, Cruz criticized Biden’s comments before the verdict was announced, saying they risked providing Chauvin with a potential route of appeal if he was found guilty of the charges against him.
“Joe Biden decides that Maxine Waters shouldn’t be the only politician foolishly providing grounds for a mistrial or a possible basis on appeal to challenge any guilty conviction,” Cruz said on Twitter on Tuesday.
—Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 20, 2021
Defense attorneys can cite comments made by public officials as grounds to appeal a verdict, the Associated Press reported, because they could cause the jury to turn against a defendant.
Rep. Maxine Waters was criticized by Republican lawmakers including Cruz after she encouraged demonstrators in Minnesota to continue demonstrating against police brutality. “We’ve got to get more confrontational,” she said.
The president had previously declined to weigh in on Chauvin’s trial and said it would be improper to speak during an active judicial process, the AP reported.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden’s comments on Tuesday but refused to explain whether he had intended to mean that Chauvin should be found guilty.
“I don’t think he would see it as weighing in on the verdict … He also noted, the jury is sequestered,” she said.
The judge in Chauvin’s trial, Peter Cahill, had previously criticized officials weighing in on the trial, specifically referring to the comments of Rep. Waters.
“I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that’s disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function,” he said after sending the jury out to deliberate, per Reuters.