The judge presiding over the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday, April 19, said a comment from Congresswoman Maxine Waters may allow an appeal to overturn the trial involving George Floyd.
Judge Peter Cahill blasted Congresswoman Waters after she urged protesters to “get more confrontational,” if the jury did not deliver a guilty verdict for the murder of George Floyd.
Cahill told Chauvin’s defense attorneys that the California Democrat “may have given you something on appeal that may result in his whole trial being overturned.”
“I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function,” he said.
Cahill added, however, that he did not believe the comments unduly influenced the jury because they had been told not to watch the news.
At one point during the trial, Cahill denied a request for a mistrial from Chauvin’s defense attorney. But Waters’ comments may provide an opportunity for Chauvin to prevail after prosecutors mounted a tough case that some legal experts believe is hard to beat.
Waters appeared at a racial justice protest Saturday night (April 17) in Brooklyn Center, a suburb not far from where Chauvin’s trial is taking place, which has been roiled by protests after a police officer killed Daunte Wright, 20, earlier this month.
On Saturday, Waters told demonstrators in Minnesota that Chauvin should be found “guilty, guilty, guilty” and if not “we cannot go away.”
Waters’ comments drew harsh words from Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Monday he was introducing a resolution to censure Waters. McCarthy said she “broke the law by violating curfew and then incited violence.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who herself has been the subject of calls to be removed from Congress, introduced a resolution to expel Waters. Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., called for Waters to be “immediately removed from Congress,” and other GOP lawmakers called for a “sanction” to “hold her accountable.”
“Representative Waters is a danger to our society,” Greene, who was accused of helping encourage the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, said in a statement.
Waters said Greene had distorted her remarks. “I am not worried that they’re going to continue to distort what I say,” Waters told The Grio. “This is who they are, and this is how they act. And I’m not going to be bullied by them.”
Waters’ allies said Republicans were trying to distract from right-wing violence, like the January 6 riot at the Capitol, by picking another fight with one of their go-to targets.
Waters defended her rhetoric Sunday, April 18, on MSNBC.
“I wanted to be there, kind of as ‘Auntie Maxine,’ to show them that not only do I love them and I support them, but they can count on me to be with them at this terrible time in all of our lives,” she said of her trip to Minnesota.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended Waters on Monday and said she doesn’t think Waters should have to apologize for her remarks. Waters said in an interview with The Grio that her comments were about “confronting the justice system, confronting the policing that’s going on.”
Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, said on Monday that Waters’ comments could have prejudiced members of the jury. He said that’s because the court had not agreed to completely sequester them from exposure to the media during deliberations in court.