‘Could be overturned’: Some call for charges as judge condemns Waters’ ‘abhorrent’ comments

Gov. Tim Walz was asked for his reaction to Waters’ comments, but largely evaded the question.

Left: U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (Gage Skidmore/Flickr). Right: Judge Peter Cahill (YouTube screenshot)

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill rebuked U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters in the courtroom Monday for “abhorrent” comments she made about the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Cahill told defense counsel Eric Nelson, who motioned (unsuccessfully) for a mistrial because of the “pervasive” media exposure surrounding the case, lack of jury sequestration, and possible jury intimidation from a sitting U.S. congresswoman.

“There is a high probability that members of this jury have seen these comments,” said Nelson.

He was referring to Waters’ brief appearance over the weekend in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, where she told a group of protesters to get “more confrontational” if Chauvin is acquitted.

“We’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business,” said Waters.

Cahill found the comments “abhorrent,” but doesn’t think they will sway the jury.

“This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning. I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function,” he added. “I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful [manner] and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution, to respect a coequal branch of government.”

Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey appeared at a press conference shortly after Cahill delivered his scathing remarks.

“Regardless of the outcome of this trial, regardless of the decision made by the jury, there is one true reality, which is that George Floyd was killed at the hands of police,” Frey claimed.

Walz was asked for his reaction to Waters’ comments, but largely evaded the question. In contrast, one local Republican is calling on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to “look into charging [Waters] for attempting to incite a riot.”

“It is disappointing that Congresswoman Waters refuses to recognize that the United States Constitution protects the rights of anyone accused of a crime, and ensures a fair trial,” said state Rep. Brian Johnson.

“Now is the time for cooler heads and for Minnesotans to make their voices heard peacefully — not for division and inciting more violence,” he continued.

At the national level, Minnesota’s GOP congressional delegation urged U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow a vote on censuring Waters — an unlikely outcome, since Pelosi defended Waters’ remarks Monday.

“During a time of increased tension around the nation — especially in a state like Minnesota where hundreds of businesses were destroyed and dozens of people were injured in riots less than one year ago — these comments from a senior member of the majority party and Committee Chair in the House of Representatives are unacceptable, divisive, and can only be viewed as a means to incite further violence and destruction,” the four Republicans said in a joint letter.

Chauvin’s trial in the death of George Floyd entered its final phase Monday as both sides delivered their closing arguments and the jury began deliberations.