Political

Biden will speak after Chauvin verdict, has been in touch with local authorities: White House

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(WASHINGTON) — The White House has begun taking steps to prepare for the outcome in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, noting the administration was in touch with local officials as closing statements in the trial got underway.

The president recently spoke to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and top White House officials are engaging with civil rights leaders, as well as mayors in Minnesota and across the country, according to a White House official.

Psaki added that Biden is expected to deliver remarks after the jury delivers their verdict, though the White House declined to provide further specifics when asked by ABC News.

Biden has been closely watching the trial and provided updates, according to Psaki.

The conversation ahead of the trial’s outcome highlight the administration’s efforts to manage what could be an emotionally fraught reaction to the verdict, currently being deliberated by the jury.

“There’s a range of conversations about how to ensure that no matter what the outcome, there is a space for peaceful protest. But, of course, we’ll let the verdict — the jury deliberate and we’ll wait for the verdict to come out before we say more about our — our engagements,” Psaki said during a press briefing Monday.

The District of Columbia National Guard is activating 250 guardsmen to help police should there be demonstrations — a protective measure at the request of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. The unarmed guardsmen will assist police with street closures.

Biden has previously said that Floyd was “murdered,” prompting him to double down on his commitment to criminal justice reform during the 2020 campaign. Still, Biden has not said whether Chauvin should be prosecuted in the trial.

When pressed about Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ comments this weekend calling for protesters to be “more confrontational,” Psaki urged for calm, repeating Biden’s belief that “protests must be peaceful.”

“He has been very clear that he recognizes the issue of police violence against people of color — communities of color — is one of great anguish and it’s exhausting and quite emotional at times. As you know, he met with the Floyd family last year and has been closely following the trial, as we’ve been talking about, and is committed to undoing this long-standing systemic problem,” Psaki told reporters Monday.

“His view is also that exercising First Amendment rights and protesting injustice is the most American thing that anyone can do, but as he also always says, protests must be peaceful. That’s what he continues to call for and what he continues to believe is the right way to approach responding.”

ABC News’ Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

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