President Biden is “closely” watching the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday as testimony was underway.
“He certainly will be watching closely, as Americans across the country will be watching. You know, at the time of George Floyd’s death, he talked about this as being an event that really open up a wound in the American public, and it really brought to light for a lot of people in this country, just to kind of racial injustice and inequality that many communities are experiencing every single day,” Psaki said, noting that the trial is working through the legal process.
Chauvin knelt on 46-year-old Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes on May 25, 2020 as Floyd told Chauvin and three other officers he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.
Psaki outlined how the death of Floyd has impacted Biden’s own agenda.
The killing and resulting protests “certainly impacted how he’s thought about in his own government, making equity central to what we do,” she said, noting that racial injustice is a priority for Biden and one of the “key crises that he believes he is facing.”
Psaki said she was unaware of any additional calls between Biden and the Floyd family, with whom he spoke last spring, but said the White House is pushing for police reform legislation working through Congress named in Floyd’s honor.
Biden believes, Psaki said, “That there needs to be accountability, and there needs to be systems in place to ensure that and laws changed to ensure that that can be carried out.”
Pressed by CNN’s Phil Mattingly on why the administration hasn’t moved on the national policing oversight commission promised within the first 100 days, she said they are “working closely with outside advocacy groups… and we’re looking for the most effective means to get that done, and the George Floyd bill has an opportunity to do exactly that, so that is where we are putting our energy and efforts at this point.”