President Biden Will Be Watching Derek Chauvin Trial ‘Closely,’ Psaki Says

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Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden will be “closely” watching the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Monday.

Chauvin’s trial began Monday morning, with prosecutors and the defense presenting their opening statements. Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the death of George Floyd in May 2020. Footage shows Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for roughly nine minutes during the incident leading up to Floyd’s death. Chauvin has pled not guilty to all charges following the breakdown of a plea deal in late 2020. (RELATED: ‘Do Not Result To Looting Or Violence’: George Floyd’s Uncle Asks For Peace Ahead Of Derek Chauvin Trial)

Psaki made the announcement during Monday’s White House press briefing. She also faced questions on when Biden would begin police reform efforts he promised on the campaign trail. Biden vowed to create a police oversight committee within his first 100 days in office, but has yet to make any announcements on the issue.

Biden showed skepticism of more radical police reform activists prior to gaining office. He held a phone call with activists in December 2020 in which he pointed out that the “defund the police” issue had “beat the living hell” out of Democrats in Congressional elections.

“That’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police. We’re not. We’re talking about holding them accountable,” Biden said according to the audio obtained by The Intercept. (RELATED: Rising Violence Prompts Minneapolis City Officials To Consider Asking Nearby Officers For Support)

Biden also expressed fear that Democrats could throw away their chances at winning the Senate runoff elections in Georgia by doubling down on the same message. He told the civil rights leaders not to get “too far ahead of ourselves.”

“We can go very far. It matters how we do it. I think it matters how we do it,” Biden said. “I just raise it with you to think about how much do we push between now and January 5 — we need those two seats — about police reform. But I guarantee you, there will be a full-blown commission. I guarantee you it’s a major, major, major element.”

With Biden’s first priority of coronavirus relief passed, he has now set his sights on infrastructure. He has not announced any policing or justice initiatives.