On Monday, as Republicans manufactured outrage over comments made by Representative Maxine Waters on the necessity of confrontational protest reached a fever pitch, Waters’s remarks also entered the courtroom where the trial of Derek Chauvin is taking place. According to Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson, Waters’s words were “threatening and intimidating the jury” and to Nelson, were grounds for a mistrial. And while Judge Peter Cahill denied Nelson’s move for a mistrial, he did come off as a little bit of a dick.
Here’s how the courtroom drama played out, via the Washington Post, and emphasis my own:
Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson moved for a mistrial, objecting, among other things, to Waters’s statements, which he argued had the effect of “threatening and intimidating the jury.” He added that the “pervasive” media coverage that the trial has received also could have influenced the 12 jurors — and two alternates — who will decide whether Chauvin is guilty of Floyd’s death.
Cahill conceded that Waters “may have given” the defense grounds “on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”
He saved his harshest words for elected officials he said were speaking about the case “in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch.”
“I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution, to respect a coequal branch of government,” he said.
“Their failure to do so, I think, is abhorrent.”
However unfortunate Cahill found the remarks, he said it did not “prejudice this jury,” adding that one congresswoman’s opinion “really doesn’t matter a whole lot anyway.” He denied the defense’s motion for a mistrial.
What about elected officials like Representatives Kevin McCarthy, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Lauren Boebert, who continue to accuse Waters of inciting a riot, once again conveniently forgetting that earlier this year they cheered on a man who actually did incite a riot, as well as the band of insurrectionists who overtook the Capitol?
As a reminder, all Waters did was to say, during a protest in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, that “we’ve got to stay on the street, and we’ve got to get more active” and that “we’ve got to get more confrontational.” Waters later clarified what she meant in an interview, explaining, “I talk about confronting the justice system, confronting the policing that’s going on, I’m talking about speaking up. I’m talking about legislation. I’m talking about elected officials doing what needs to be done to control their budgets and to pass legislation.” She added, “I am not worried that they’re going to continue to distort what I say. This is who they are and this is how they act. And I’m not going to be bullied by them.”
But to the America First Caucus, Waters’s words were “violent,” as Boebert put it, a call to “war,” according to Greene, and “dangerous comments” worthy of censure, according to McCarthy.
I wonder what’s going on here!