Calling George Floydfamily later, he said of himself and Vice President Kamala Harris: “We’re all so relieved.”
Chauvin was convicted of two charges of murder and one of manslaughter in Floyd’s death, a case that prompted a national count on race and policing.
Biden said he hoped the ruling would give momentum to police congressional reform efforts.
Floyd’s family attorney Ben Crump posted a video on Twitter of a phone call from Biden and Harris to the family. When asked by a family member how he was doing, Biden said, “Feel better now. Nothing is going to make it all better, but at least now there’s some justice.”
President Biden and VP Harris call the Floyd family after the GUILTY ruling! Thanks @POTUS & @VP for your suppo … https://t.co/CLKhtZqjSg
– Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) 1618955032000
“This is a day of justice,” Harris told the family after joining Biden to watch the verdict in the private dining room off the Oval Office.
Speaking hours before the verdict, while the jury deliberated in Minneapolis, Biden told him to call Floydon Monday to offer prayers and they “could only imagine the pressure and anxiety they are feeling.” The president was expected to address the outcome of the case on Tuesday night.
“They are a good family and they call for peace and tranquility regardless of that ruling,” Biden said just hours before the verdicts were announced. “I pray that the verdict is the right verdict. I think it’s overwhelming, in my opinion. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was confiscated now.”
Biden said he was only weighing in on the cause for the death of Floyd, who died with Chauvin’s knee on his neck, because the jury in the case had already seized him.
The president has repeatedly denied Floyd’s death but had previously stopped weighing up Chauvin’s case, with White House Officials say it would be inappropriate to speak out during an active judicial proceedings. On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki repeatedly refused to explain Biden’s comments, doing nothing to dispel the impression that he believed Chauvin should be found guilty.
The White House has been weighing in private how to handle the verdict, including whether Biden should address the nation and send specially trained community facilitators from the Justice Department, assistants and officials to The Associated Press. With word that a verdict had been reached Tuesday afternoon, Biden deferred planned comments in the White House on his infrastructure package.
Biden’s comments Tuesday came a day after Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the case, rebuked public officials for speaking out.
“I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a way that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function,” he said shortly after send the jury to begin negotiations.
Defense attorneys often cite comments made by public officials as a reason to appeal a verdict, in part because they could poison the jury against the defendant.
Cahill delivered his reprimand after rejecting a defense claim for abuse based in part on comments from California Representative Maxine Waters, who said “we must have more conflicts” if Chauvin is not convicted of murder. Speaking about politicians in general, the judge said, “I think if they want to give their opinion, they should do so in a respectful way and in a manner consistent with their oath to the Constitution to respect the coequal branch of government. failing to do that, I think, is offensive. ”
He admitted to Chauvin’s attorneys that Waters’ comments could be grounds for appeal.
On Monday, Cahill ordered jurors to be confiscated in an undisclosed hotel during their deliberations and instructed to avoid all news of the case.
Despite Cahill’s comments, Brock Hunter, a criminal defense attorney and former president of the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said he considered a successful appeal over comments like Waters’ and Biden highly unlikely.
“It’s inevitable that public officials are going to comment on a cause and its effects on communities,” he said. “Unless there is direct evidence that statements by a public official directly affected a juror or jurors, I do not believe this even started.”
Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told NBC’s “Today” show that Biden “knew how to lose a family member … so he let us know that he was praying for us and hoped that everything would come. out to be right. ”
The verdict – and the result – will test Biden, who has vowed to help combat racism in policing, helping African Americans who supported him in large numbers last year in the wake of protests that swept the nation after Floyd’s death and a reboot and a national conversation about race. But he has also long projected himself as an ally of police, struggling with criticism about long-used tactics and training methods and recruitment difficulties.
Vice President Kamala Harris said Tuesday, ahead of the verdict, “Let’s say a guilty verdict is on the highest charge, it will not take away the Floyd family’s pain.”
“It will not remove the pain of the communities, all communities, regardless of color or geographical location, who felt sadness and anger at what they saw in that video,” he said CNN.
In the meantime, the White House stepped in with preparations. Psaki said administration officials have been in contact with leaders in Minnesota and in other cities and states that witnessed unrest after Floyd’s death last year.
The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota have been working with local officials to support law enforcement as they prepare for the possibility of a disturbance after the ruling, officials said.
And the Justice Department has also sent specially trained community facilitators, according to a senior Justice Department official. The officer could not discuss the plans publicly and spoke to the RA provided he was anonymous.
Officials, who are part of the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service, consider themselves the “American Peace Maker” for mediating disputes in communities and conducting listening sessions to help prevent future conflicts.
A federal civil rights investigation, besides the case, is ongoing. Several witnesses were demoted earlier this year to appear before a federal grand jury considering charges against Chauvin.
The Justice Department’s civil rights investigation has focused on Chauvin and some of the witnesses, including other officials who worked with Chauvin, people familiar with the matter, have told the AP.
Chauvin was prepared to plead guilty to third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd before then – Attorney General William Barr personally blocked the plea agreement last year. Barr turned down the deal in part because he felt it was too soon, as the investigation into Floyd’s death was still in its relative infancy, law enforcement officials said.