Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction was met with widespread approval among those seeking justice for George Floyd, but the trial’s outcome may not be set in stone thanks to remarks from influential political leaders such as Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and President Biden himself.
Waters, who had visited Minnesota before the verdict was announced, said that if Chauvin is not convicted of murder, protesters should “stay in the street,” “get more active,” and “get more confrontational.” In a New York Post op-ed, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy warned that this alone would be grounds for appeal.
“Because of her, this isn’t over,” McCarthy wrote.
McCarthy said that Waters, who represents California, went to Minnesota “to interfere in its judicial system” in violation of a curfew. He argued that “her remarks can only be interpreted as an incitement to violence” and that she “ought to be under investigation.”
Biden had also weighed in on the case before the verdict was announced, telling reporters that he was “praying that verdict is the right verdict” and that “I think it’s overwhelming, in my view.”
The president claimed that he only said this because the jury was already sequestered, but McCarthy argued that this “is no excuse” for making those remarks.
“He is a lawyer and former Senate Judiciary Committee chairman who well knows that sequestration does not make jurors impervious to prejudicial publicity,” McCarthy wrote. “And if he’s been following the case as he claims to have been, he knows trial judge Peter Cahill has pleaded that public officials stop commenting on the trial — under circumstances where, even before the Bidens and Waters piped up, there was already substantial reason to doubt that Chauvin could get a fair trial in Minneapolis.”
McCarthy was far from the only one to criticize Waters and Biden for their comments.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that “sometimes a fair trial is difficult to conduct” and 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.”
Randy Zelin, head of the criminal practice at Wilk Auslander LLP and an adjunct professor of law at Cornell University, told Fox News that the defense has “so many different directions for the defense to go” in arguing that the trial was not fair, including Waters’ comments and possibly Biden’s.
Fox News reached out to Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson asking if the remarks from Waters or Biden will be cited on appeal, but he did not immediately respond. Nelson did argue before the verdict was announced that Waters’ statement and other factors should be grounds for a mistrial.
Judge Peter Cahill conceded with Nelson that “Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”
Cahill also 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.
Fox News’ Brittany De Lea, Paul Steinhauser and Paul Conner contributed to this report.