Former President George W. Bush offered his views on the trial of Derek Chauvin as the jury deliberates on a verdict Tuesday, saying many have “already made up their mind” regarding “what the verdict ought to be.”
The 43rd commander-in-chief made the comments during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show promoting his new book of paintings of immigrants, “Out of Many, One,” after being asked how he thought the verdict would impact the racial reckoning underway nationwide.
“I think the first thing is, Hoda, that that people know that the trial has been conducted fairly. And that rule of law reigns supreme in our judiciary. We’ll see what a jury of his peers says, you know, I think a lot of people have already made up their mind what the verdict ought to be,” he told anchor Hoda Kotb.
“All I can tell you is that if the trial is not conducted fairly, there is an appeal process. One of the things that we learned after the storming of the Capitol was our institutions held, and one of the institutions that is really important for the confidence of the American people is a fair judicial system,” he continued.
“I think that’s what’s playing out on our TVs right now.”
Americans have spent the last three weeks reliving the nationwide event sparked by video going viral of then-Officer Chauvin kneeling with his knee on the neck of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, for over nine minutes.
Floyd’s death occurred in late May of last year, sparking a summer of racial justice protests — and subsequent calls for police reform.
During his “Today” appearance, the former president oversaw a naturalization ceremony for new US citizens, and delivered a speech welcoming his new fellow Americans.
“Welcome, our fellow citizens. You and I share the same rights, and the same title,” Bush began, having jumped up out of his chair before his introduction was complete.
While promoting his new book over the weekend, the president revealed in a “CBS Sunday Morning” interview that he had been lobbying GOP lawmakers to support bipartisan immigration reform.
“Whether my own party listens to me or not is another question,” he told the outlet.
Asked about that comment during his “Today” interview, he explained that some in his party were not open to his suggestions on immigration, as he said Democrats refused to under his administration, “because you can score political points with the issue.”
Immigration, Bush said, was “an easy issue to frighten some of the electorate” with, “and I’m trying to, I’m trying to have a different kind of voice.”
The former president, who presided over the Iraq War and Great Recession, offered some choice words to describe his party currently.
“I would describe it as isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent nativist,” he said.
Kotb then asked Bush if that “disappointed” him, to which he responded, “Well, that’s not exactly my vision [for the party], but you know what, I’m just an old guy they put out to pasture,” noting his retirement from national politics.
“Just a simple painter,” he quipped.
As for what he’d like to see come from immigration reform, Bush said he wouldn’t describe his doctrine as “pro-immigration,” as that painted with too broad a brush.
Instead, he said, he supported “border enforcement with a compassionate touch,” arguing that the humanitarian crisis in the border region required more resources from the federal government in terms of immigration judges, case workers, border security.
He also called for reforms to the work visa program as well as the asylum process.