Despite telling reporters on Tuesday he was "praying" for the "right verdict" — remarks that came just hours after he placed a sympathetic call to George Floyd's family — President Joe Biden was "certainly not looking to influence" the ongoing deliberations of the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
"I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is — I think it’s overwhelming, in my view," Biden told reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday. "I wouldn’t say that unless the — the jury was sequestered now and not hearing me say that."
ABC News noted that Biden did not define if the "right verdict" is guilty or not guilty.
"We will continue to encourage peaceful protests, but we’re not going to get ahead of the verdict in the trial," Psaki said later when pressed about Biden's comments and asked about any preparations for protests and potential violence after a verdict is announced.
A day earlier, Biden called the Floyd family to let them know he was praying for them.
"I can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they’re feeling," Biden said Tuesday. "And so, I waited till the jury was sequestered, and — and I called."
Biden said he had not expected to make the conversation public, but George Floyd’s brother, Philonise, spoke about the call during an interview Tuesday on NBC’s "Today" show.
"He was just calling," Philonise Floyd said. "He knows how it is to lose a family member, and he knows the process of what we’re going through. So he was just letting us know that he was praying for us, hoping that everything will come out to be OK."
Floyd said he's "optimistic" about the Chauvin trial's outcome.
"Me and my family, we pray about it every day," Floyd said. "I just feel that in America, if a Black man can’t get justice for this, what can a Black man get justice for?"
Biden’s remarks about the case are not the first time he has commented about Floyd’s death.
In January, less than a week after being sworn in, Biden said Floyd's death "marked a turning point" regarding racial justice in the U.S.
Biden signed four executive orders that dealt with what the administration called racial equality and made statements attributing Floyd's May 2020 death specifically to the actions taken by then-officer Chauvin to restrain Floyd.
"Those eight minutes and 46 seconds that took George Floyd's life, opened the eyes of millions of Americans and millions of people all over the world," Biden said. "It was the knee on the neck of justice and it wouldn't be forgotten.
"It stirred the consciousness of tens of millions of Americans and in my view it marked a turning point in this country's attitude toward racial justice."
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