WASHINGTON — The judge in Derek Chauvin's murder trial in the death of George Floyd criticized recent comments by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and said her words could be grounds for the defense to appeal a verdict.
The congresswoman, who has long been a lightning rod for criticism from the right, was already facing a torrent of Republican ire for her comments over the weekend urging protesters in Minnesota to “get more confrontational” if Chauvin is not convicted, with several GOP lawmakers calling for Waters' expulsion from Congress.
Chauvin's lawyer asked the judge to declare a mistrial over Waters' comments, arguing that she had prejudiced the jury. Judge Peter Cahill denied the request, but said that Waters' comments were "abhorrent" and that she may have handed the defense a lifeline anyway.
"I'll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned," Cahill said as arguments in the case concluded Monday and the jury began deliberations.
Waters appeared at a racial justice protest Saturday night in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, a suburb not far from where Chauvin's trial is taking place, which has been roiled by protests after a police officer killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright last week.
"We've got to stay on the street and we've got to get more active, we've got to get more confrontational,” Waters told reporters when asked what would happen if the Chauvin trial, which is wrapping up this week, ends in acquittal. “We've got to make sure that they know that we mean business."
While Republicans called for Waters to be punished for her comments, she is unlikely to face punishment because Democrats control Congress.
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