WASHINGTON: The Biden administration is privately weighing how to handle the upcoming verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, including considering whether President Joe Biden should address the nation and dispatching specially trained community facilitators from the Justice Department, aides and officials told The Associated Press.
Closing arguments began Monday in Chauvin’s trial with a prosecutor telling jurors that the officer “had to know” he was squeezing the life out of George Floyd as he cried over and over that he couldn’t breathe and finally fell silent. Chauvin faces murder and manslaughter charges.
The plans for possible presidential remarks are still fluid, with the timing, venue and nature of the remarks still being considered, in part depending on the timing of the verdict, according to two White House aides who were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
The White House has been warily watching the trial proceed in Minneapolis – and then another shooting of a Black man by a white police officer last week – and are preparing for the possibility of unrest if a guilty verdict is not reached in the trial. Biden may also speak after a guilty verdict, the White House aides said.
The verdict – and the aftermath – will be a test for Biden, who has pledged 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 restarted a national conversation about race. But he also has long projected himself as an ally of police, who are struggling with criticism about long-used tactics and training methods and difficulties in recruitment.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the White House has had a “range of conversations” about preparations for the upcoming verdict and added, “Our objective is to ensure there is space for peaceful protest.”
“Of course we’ll let the jury deliberate and we’ll wait for the verdict to come out before we say more about our engagements,” Psaki

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