White House spokesman Jay Carney claims the president is passively waiting for the Department of Justice to decide whether it will file federal charges against George Zimmerman, who was just acquitted of murder charges by a Florida jury.
“This is a decision made by the Justice Department, by career prosecutors,” he told reporters Monday. “All questions… should be directed there, and that is something the president does not involve himself in,” he said.
However, statements from President Obama and Carney show the White House is open to a renewed effort to convict Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
On Sunday, for example, Obama issued a statement saying “we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.” His use of “a jury,” instead of “the jury,” suggests that he would not oppose the creation of another jury to hear more charges against Martin.
That phrase, “a jury” was repeated today by Carney.
Also, Obama’s Sunday statement did not mention Zimmerman, or offer any reassurances of protection for him against terrorist threats or another trial.
When asked today about the Zimmerman’s absence from the statement, Carney said that “everything the president has to say was contained within that statement.”
The Obama administration has taken an active interest in the Zimmerman case throughout its history. Soon after the shooting, Obama broke with a general historic policy of presidents not commenting on local legal matters by announcing to reporters, “If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon.”
“The president commented on the death of a young man… he didn’t comment about the disposition of an investigation or a case,” Carney claimed.
In early 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder sent aides to Florida to work with protestors on a series of demonstrations including one that was headlined by longtime race baiter and Tawana Brawly hoaxer Al Sharpton. Holder also met with the leaders of the African-American lobbies while they were demanding a reversal of the local jurisdiction’s decision not to press charges (Related: Docs: Justice Department facilitated anti-Zimmerman protests)
After the demonstrations and Holder’s visit, the city fired a top law-enforcement official and charged Zimmerman with murder.
A 2012 Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into the case turned up no evidence that could be used to build a federal civil rights case against Zimmerman, whose mother is Hispanic and who has been described as a “white Hispanic” in media coverage.
More clues might be revealed Tuesday, when Holder is slated to give a speech to the NAACP, and is expected to discuss the case.
During the Monday press conference, Carney repeatedly declined to elaborate on the president’s response to the verdict, which was slammed by African-American lobbies, such as the NAACP.
The NAACP and other African-American groups say Zimmerman committed a crime when he shot Martin in February 2012.
The Florida jury, however, heard evidence that Martin assaulted Zimmerman, knocked him to the ground and was sitting on top of him when he was shot.