Senators Step Into Voting Rights Debate

Here’s what you need to know: Video transcript Back bars 0:00/1:41 -0:00 transcript Voting Rights Hearing Features Georgia Leaders Senate Democrats continued to push for a national expansion of voting rights in a hearing featuring leaders from the state of Georgia, a battleground in the voting rights campaign. “Record numbers of Georgians used their voices and voted in the last election. And in response to this swell in democratic participation, politicians in our State Legislature responded not in celebration, but with retaliation.” “Today’s conversation regarding the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act does occur against the backdrop of a resurgence of Jim Crow-style voter suppression measures sweeping across state legislatures, grounded in the big lie about fraud and insecurity in the 2020 election. As a necessary reminder, post-Reconstruction laws known as Jim Crow, that targeted Black voters, never explicitly excluded eligible citizens by race. Throughout its history, Georgia has been among the worst actors, including malicious prosecution of lawful absentee ballot users in 2010 and intimidation of Black voters by deputy sheriffs in 2015.” “There’s an organized campaign started to make big business punish the people of Georgia for their political choices. When you make political comments and it hurts people’s pocketbooks, there ought to be something — everybody would be offended by.” “What is the problem that lawmakers in Georgia want to address with the new law? The problem is obvious: Too many voters are showing up. Georgia also had a historic voter turnout during the last election. It seems Republican lawmakers in Georgia have concluded that the solution to their election problems is to make it harder to vote.” Senate Democrats continued to push for a national expansion of voting rights in a hearing featuring leaders from the state of Georgia, a battleground in the voting rights campaign.CreditCredit...Pool photo by Bill ClarkSenate Democrats on Tuesday renewed their push for a national expansion of voting rights, summoning leaders from the battleground state of Georgia to help build a public case that Congress should intervene to lower state barriers to vote. Senators on the Judiciary Committee began taking testimony from elected officials, academics and advocates at opposite ends of the partisan fight over voting that has erupted since the 2020 election. But the dominant witness was Stacey Abrams, the rising Democratic star who waged a battle against Georgia’s divisive new voting law and who has done as much as anyone to focus her party’s attention on the issue. Ms. Abrams argued that the states like hers across the country are witnessing “a resurgence of Jim Crow-style voter suppression measures sweeping across state legislatures grounded in the ‘big lie’ about fraud and insecurity in the 2020 election,” referencing false claims of election fraud by former President Donald J. Trump. “When the fundamental right to vote is left to the political ambitions and prejudices of state actors, ones who rely on suppression to maintain power, federal intercession stands as the appropriate remedy,” Ms. Abrams said. While the hearing is not tied to any particular legislation, it comes as congressional Democrats seek to pass two significant voting bills. The first is a gigantic national elections overhaul, called House Resolution 1, that would force states to expand early voting and mail-in ballots, mandate automatic voter registration and neuter voter identification laws, among other measures. The second bill would restore a key enforcement provision in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that made it harder for states to target voters of color. It was struck down in 2013 by the Supreme Court. Republicans fiercely oppose the first bill, which also includes a new public campaign financing system and a revamp of the Federal Election Commission, calling it an overreach designed to help Democrats consolidate power. They have argued that states like Georgia are simply acting to restore faith in their electoral systems. One of their witnesses, Jan Jones, the Republican speaker pro tempore of the Georgia House, mounted an energetic defense of her state’s new election law, which she framed as a periodic update “making it easier to vote and harder to cheat.” Ms. Jones said a provision barring third party groups from providing food and water to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots was not a draconian oppression tactic, but an attempt to stop activists and candidates from using food and other goodies to sway voters. (A New York Times analysis identified 16 provisions in the Georgia law that hinder some people’s ability to vote or shift power to the Republican-controlled legislature.) Bill Gardner, New Hampshire’s long-serving top elections official and a Democrat, argued that Democrats’ attempted overhaul would backfire on even its stated goals. “An unjustified federal intr

Senators Step Into Voting Rights Debate
Here’s what you need to know: Video transcript Back bars 0:00/1:41 -0:00 transcript Voting Rights Hearing Features Georgia Leaders Senate Democrats continued to push for a national expansion of voting rights in a hearing featuring leaders from the state of Georgia, a battleground in the voting rights campaign. “Record numbers of Georgians used their voices and voted in the last election. And in response to this swell in democratic participation, politicians in our State Legislature responded not in celebration, but with retaliation.” “Today’s conversation regarding the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act does occur against the backdrop of a resurgence of Jim Crow-style voter suppression measures sweeping across state legislatures, grounded in the big lie about fraud and insecurity in the 2020 election. As a necessary reminder, post-Reconstruction laws known as Jim Crow, that targeted Black voters, never explicitly excluded eligible citizens by race. Throughout its history, Georgia has been among the worst actors, including malicious prosecution of lawful absentee ballot users in 2010 and intimidation of Black voters by deputy sheriffs in 2015.” “There’s an organized campaign started to make big business punish the people of Georgia for their political choices. When you make political comments and it hurts people’s pocketbooks, there ought to be something — everybody would be offended by.” “What is the problem that lawmakers in Georgia want to address with the new law? The problem is obvious: Too many voters are showing up. Georgia also had a historic voter turnout during the last election. It seems Republican lawmakers in Georgia have concluded that the solution to their election problems is to make it harder to vote.” Senate Democrats continued to push for a national expansion of voting rights in a hearing featuring leaders from the state of Georgia, a battleground in the voting rights campaign.CreditCredit...Pool photo by Bill ClarkSenate Democrats on Tuesday renewed their push for a national expansion of voting rights, summoning leaders from the battleground state of Georgia to help build a public case that Congress should intervene to lower state barriers to vote. Senators on the Judiciary Committee began taking testimony from elected officials, academics and advocates at opposite ends of the partisan fight over voting that has erupted since the 2020 election. But the dominant witness was Stacey Abrams, the rising Democratic star who waged a battle against Georgia’s divisive new voting law and who has done as much as anyone to focus her party’s attention on the issue. Ms. Abrams argued that the states like hers across the country are witnessing “a resurgence of Jim Crow-style voter suppression measures sweeping across state legislatures grounded in the ‘big lie’ about fraud and insecurity in the 2020 election,” referencing false claims of election fraud by former President Donald J. Trump. “When the fundamental right to vote is left to the political ambitions and prejudices of state actors, ones who rely on suppression to maintain power, federal intercession stands as the appropriate remedy,” Ms. Abrams said. While the hearing is not tied to any particular legislation, it comes as congressional Democrats seek to pass two significant voting bills. The first is a gigantic national elections overhaul, called House Resolution 1, that would force states to expand early voting and mail-in ballots, mandate automatic voter registration and neuter voter identification laws, among other measures. The second bill would restore a key enforcement provision in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that made it harder for states to target voters of color. It was struck down in 2013 by the Supreme Court. Republicans fiercely oppose the first bill, which also includes a new public campaign financing system and a revamp of the Federal Election Commission, calling it an overreach designed to help Democrats consolidate power. They have argued that states like Georgia are simply acting to restore faith in their electoral systems. One of their witnesses, Jan Jones, the Republican speaker pro tempore of the Georgia House, mounted an energetic defense of her state’s new election law, which she framed as a periodic update “making it easier to vote and harder to cheat.” Ms. Jones said a provision barring third party groups from providing food and water to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots was not a draconian oppression tactic, but an attempt to stop activists and candidates from using food and other goodies to sway voters. (A New York Times analysis identified 16 provisions in the Georgia law that hinder some people’s ability to vote or shift power to the Republican-controlled legislature.) Bill Gardner, New Hampshire’s long-serving top elections official and a Democrat, argued that Democrats’ attempted overhaul would backfire on even its stated goals. “An unjustified federal intrusion into the election processes of the individual states will damage voter confidence, diminish the importance of Election Day, and ultimately result in lower voter turnout,” Mr. Gardner said. At times, the hearing produced tangles between national political figures who frequently spar through the media but do not often meet face to face. Republicans, including Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, repeatedly peppered Ms. Abrams with questions that suggested her views were contradictory on voter identification laws, which the public generally supports but voting rights advocates argue make it harder for some people of color to vote. “So voter ID is sometimes racist, sometimes not racist?” asked Mr. Cornyn, in a lengthy exchange. “The intent always matters, sir, and that is the point of this conversation,” Ms. Abrams responded, saying she supported some voter ID laws. “That is the point of the Jim Crow narrative. That Jim Crow did not simply look at the activities, it looked at the intent.” Mr. Cornyn rephrased the question in various ways, and suggested Ms. Abrams was calling racist the voting laws in other, Democratic-run states, which make it harder to vote early or by mail than Georgia does. Ms. Abrams pushed back. “Senator, I am happy to respond to your questions, but if you are going to mischaracterize my responses that’s inappropriate,” she said. The senator, though, had already moved onto another witness and did not respond. The Senate Rules Committee is expected to debate and vote on the comprehensive voting bill in mid-May. But with Republicans unified in opposition, its path to passage remains murky. Representative Maxine Waters, the chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee, is a frequent target of rage from the right.Credit...J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press House Democrats on Tuesday killed a Republican-led effort to censure Representative Maxine Waters for suggesting that racial justice protesters should “get more confrontational.” Democrats stayed united in a 216-210 vote to quash a resolution offered by Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, to formally rebuke Ms. Waters, the chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee and a frequent target of rage from the right, for comments she made over the weekend at a demonstration in Brooklyn Center, Minn. Ms. Waters was at a rally to protest the killing of Daunte Wright, a Black man, by a white police officer. Asked on Saturday what protesters should do if Derek Chauvin were acquitted in the killing of George Floyd, Ms. Waters said: “We’ve got to stay on the street, and 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.” Shortly after the House voted down Mr. McCarthy’s resolution, a jury convicted Mr. Chauvin of murder. Ms. Waters later said she had been referring to civil rights-era demonstrations, which used tactics of civil disobedience, and Democratic leaders have stood behind her. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California told reporters on Monday that Ms. Waters had no reason to apologize for her remarks. But Republicans led by Mr. McCarthy have accused Ms. Waters of inciting violence, and sought to weaponize her comments against other Democrats, offering them as proof that members of the party are anti-police. By forcing a vote on the matter, he sought to put politically vulnerable Democrats in a tough spot, daring them to vote against condemning what the Republicans characterized as radical statements. “Chairwoman Waters’ actions are beneath the dignity of this institution,” Mr. McCarthy wrote on Twitter. “They raised the potential for violence, directed lawlessness, and may have interfered with a coequal branch of government.” His resolution cited at length comments made on Monday by Peter A. Cahill, the judge presiding over Mr. Chauvin’s case, who said that Ms. Waters’ comments may have given the defense an opening to overturn the trial on appeal. Judge Cahill said he wished “elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law.” Democrats moved to kill Mr. McCarthy’s measure, which party leaders condemned as hypocritical, given that the Republican leader has not condemned the inflammatory rhetoric used by colleagues in his party around the Jan. 6 riot. Mr. McCarthy declined earlier this year to take any action against Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican who had in the past endorsed assassinating Speaker Nancy Pelosi and referred to Jan. 6 as a “1776 moment.” “Clean up your mess, Kevin,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York and the No. 4 House Democrat, said at a news conference. “Sit this one out. You’ve got no credibility.” The House rarely moves to censure lawmakers. Steve King, the former Republican congressman from Iowa, for example, was never censured for a litany of racist comments he made while in office, including claiming that nonwhite groups hadn’t contributed as much as whites to civilization and that “mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.” Former congressman Charlie Rangel, a Democrat from New York, was the last House lawmaker to be censured in 2010 for a litany of financial corruption transgressions. The situation was reminiscent of the one Mr. McCarthy faced when Democrats pressured him to punish Ms. Greene for her past comments. Democrats moved unilaterally to strip the Georgia Republican of her seats in a move without precedent, citing the Republican leader’s unwillingness to do so — an argument that Mr. McCarthy parroted on Monday. “Speaker Pelosi is ignoring Waters’ behavior,” Mr. McCarthy wrote on Twitter. “That’s why I am introducing a resolution to censure Rep. Waters for these dangerous comments.” Video transcript Back bars 0:00/1:44 -0:00 transcript Judge Criticizes Congresswoman’s Comments on Verdict Judge Peter A. Cahill criticized comments by Representative Maxine Waters that if the jury doesn’t return a guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, protesters should “get more confrontational.” “My phone gives me alerts on things that just happened. I mean, you can’t avoid it and it is so pervasive that it is, I just don’t know how this jury, it can really be said to be that they are free from the taint of this. And now that we have U.S. representatives threatening acts of, of violence in relation to the specific case, it’s mind-boggling to me, Judge.” “Well, I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal. I’m aware of the media reports. I’m aware that Congresswoman Waters was talking specifically about this trial and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction and talked about being confrontational. But you can submit the press articles about that. 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. 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 co-equal branch of government. Their failure to do so I think is abhorrent. But I don’t think it has prejudiced us with additional material that would prejudice this jury. They have been told not to watch the news. I trust they are following those instructions and that there is not in any way a prejudice to the defendant. Beyond the articles that were talking specifically about the facts of this case, a congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot.” Judge Peter A. Cahill criticized comments by Representative Maxine Waters that if the jury doesn’t return a guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, protesters should “get more confrontational.”CreditCredit...Victor J. Blue for The New York TimesFollowing closing arguments on Monday, both Derek Chauvin’s lawyer and Judge Peter A. Cahill suggested that a Democratic congresswoman’s comments suggesting that racial justice protesters should “get more confrontational” could affect the outcome of the former officer’s trial. Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, argued that Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, had interfered with “the sanctity of the jury process” when she told reporters in Brooklyn Center, Minn., on Saturday night that demonstrators would need to “stay on the street” and “get more active” if Mr. Chauvin was acquitted. “An elected official, a United States congressperson, was making what I interpreted to be — what I think are reasonably interpreted to be — threats against the sanctity of the jury process,” Mr. Nelson said, calling for a mistrial because of Ms. Waters’s remarks. A jury convicted Mr. Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on Tuesday, prompting cheers from protesters outside the courtroom. Judge Cahill dismissed his motion but said that Ms. Waters may have inadvertently handed the defense a gift. “I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” he said. Still, the judge, who ended every day of testimony during the trial by telling jurors, “Have a good night and don’t watch the news,” added that he believes that the jurors have been following those instructions and would not be directly exposed to Ms. Waters’s comments. “A congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot,” he added. The discussion in court of Ms. Waters’s comments came as Republicans in Washington were seeking to capitalize on them, accusing her of inciting violence — a similar charge to the one leveled against former President Donald J. Trump in his impeachment trial in February — and clamoring for Democratic congressional leaders to punish her. House Democrats on Tuesday squelched a Republican effort to censure Ms. Waters for her comments. Ms. Waters, the chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee and a frequent target of rage from the right, stopped on Saturday to meet with demonstrators protesting police brutality after an officer killed Daunte Wright. At one point, asked what protesters should do if no guilty verdict was reached in Mr. Chauvin’s trial, Ms. Waters said: “We’ve got to stay on the street, and 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.” Ms. Pelosi defended Ms. Waters on Monday, telling reporters that her comments had nothing to do with inciting violence. “Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement,” Ms. Pelosi said. “No, I don’t think she should apologize.” Republicans have invoked the sharp-tongued Ms. Waters in the past to excuse extreme rhetoric within their party. Mr. Trump’s defense team repeatedly played video at his impeachment trial of her and other Democrats speaking in harsh terms, arguing that the former president’s bellicose words were no different than those on the other side. Video transcript Back bars 0:00/1:13 -0:00 transcript ‘Praying the Verdict Is the Right Verdict,’ Biden Tells Floyd Family President Biden disclosed the details of a phone call he shared with the family of George Floyd, as the family awaits the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer accused of killing Mr. Floyd. I’ve come to know George’s family, not just in passing. I’ve spent time with them. I spent time with his little daughter, Gianna. You should see this beautiful child and his brother, both brothers, matter of fact. And so I can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they’re feeling. And so I waited till the jury was sequestered, and then I called, and as I wasn’t going to say anything about it, but Philonise said today on television, they accurately said it was a private conversation because Joe understands what it’s like to go through loss, and they’re a good family. And they’re calling for peace and tranquility, no matter what that verdict is. I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict which is — I think it’s overwhelming in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now — you wouldn’t hear me say that. But so, we just talked. I wanted to know how they were doing, just personally, and we talked about personal things. President Biden disclosed the details of a phone call he shared with the family of George Floyd, as the family awaits the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer accused of killing Mr. Floyd.CreditCredit...Doug Mills/The New York TimesPresident Biden called the family of George Floyd on Monday to express his support and sympathy, telling reporters on Tuesday that the evidence against the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was “overwhelming” and that he was praying for the “right verdict.” Hours later, a jury found Mr. Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. It is highly unusual for a president to weigh in on behalf of a specific outcome in a judicial proceeding. On Monday, Peter A. Cahill, the Minnesota state judge who is presiding in the case, warned politicians to refrain from commenting on the outcome after Representative Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, urged demonstrators to mobilize in anticipation of the verdict. “I can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they are feeling, so I waited till the jury was sequestered,” Mr. Biden said of his conversation with the Floyd family during brief remarks in the Oval Office. Video transcript Back bars 0:00/14:23 -0:00 transcript From Rodney King to George Floyd: Reliving the Scars of Police Violence The murder trial of Derek Chauvin is at the center of a national reckoning on race and policing. But cycles of protests over systemic racism and policing are not new. We watched the trial with the families of Rodney King, Oscar Grant and Stephon Clark to see this moment in history through their eyes. “May it please the court. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, good morning. The video evidence, I think, will be very helpful and meaningful to you because you can see it for yourself without lawyer talk, lawyer spin, lawyer anything. You can see it for yourself.” “Please. Please. I can’t breathe. Please, man. Please somebody help me. Please. I’m about to die in this thing.” “Oh my God.” “What did he say?” “He said, I’m about to die. Oh my God.” “While watching the George Floyd trial, I noticed the differences and the importance of footage.” “This corner —” “When Stephon was murdered, we only had the officers’ footage. We only had their point of view.” “Hey, show your hands.” “You know, when my son was killed being on the platform, there was several bystanders that filmed. And had it not been for the cameras, we wouldn’t even be here today because they would have probably said it was justified.” “Bro, with your feet on his head, man. You knee on his neck.” “He’s pushing harder.” “Yeah.” “I cannot breathe.” “A little bit more. Right here.” “I don’t watch the footage of my dad’s incident because it’s torture.” “You see the officers giving a trove of blows to his body?” “Yes.” “To his arms, to his torso, to his legs.” “Here it is 30 years later, nothing has changed.” “Now who are you going to believe? The defendants or your own eyes?” “I am watching the George Floyd case with my best friend, Tiffany, at her home.” “Oh my gosh.” “Wow.” “And he’s still on his neck.” “Today was the first time I watched the entire video of George Floyd, and it definitely made me think about my dad begging for his life screaming.” “Check his pulse. Check his pulse.” “His daughter was the same age I was when my dad was beaten.” “My name is Lora Dene King. I’m the middle child of Rodney Glen King.” “The world saw the videotape.” “We thought the video showed excessive force and unnecessary force.” “With that videotape, if they had two eyes and they weren’t blind, you could see that it was excessive force.” “The defense tried to dilute the impact of the tape by dissecting it, frame by frame, in an effort to show that King was a threat to the officers.” “He kind of gave out like a bear-like yell, like a wounded animal. If he had grabbed my officer, it would have been a death grip. If he had grabbed the weapon, he would have had numerous targets.” “He didn’t grab anybody during these events, did he?” “No sir, he did not.” “He couldn’t walk. He had 50 broken bones. His skull was permanently fractured. He had permanent brain damage. My dad was never the same after that. You know, and everybody just considered him to be normal. I think if that happened to anybody, they wouldn’t be normal ever again.” “This doesn’t just affect the person it happened to. It also affects all those people who are out there watching it. They’re all affected forever.” “I was desperate to help.” “I was just kind of emotional, and I went to the African-American that was standing there on the curb. And I was just like, they’re not going to help them.” “Oh my God.” “This man, he witnessed another African-American man getting his life taken. The nine-year-old speaker on the trial.” “Good morning, [inaudible].” “Good morning.” “Which one is you?” “Just so happened to be walking down the street. She will never forget that for the rest of her life.” “You ultimately ended up posting your video to social media, right?” “Correct.” “And it went viral?” “Correct.” “It changed your life, right?” “The girl who filmed George Floyd, the fact that there was nothing she can do to save his life.” “It’s been nights, I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more.” “That’s something that will haunt her like George Holliday, who captured my dad’s video.” “Without George Holliday, these four officers might not be on trial.” “He just wanted to test this new camera he had. Like, oh let me take — he stood there shaking, terrified. And he still suffers to this day because that was the right thing to do.” “What could he have done to deserve that?” “If I was to see George Floyd’s daughter today, I wish there was something I can say. But it’s not easy. It’s not easy at all. Because I’m sure she’s watched that videotape. And that’s something that carries in your mental every everyday, just like my dad’s video tape.” “For the jury, a difficult decision ahead, knowing that to acquit the four officers could ignite this city.” “Not guilty of —” Chanting: “No justice, no peace. No justice, no peace.” “And damage to the city of Los Angeles running into billions of dollars.” “That’s what I’m saying. The police, they don’t pay a cent for this trial. So my mother and I, we was watching the George Floyd’s trial. And it brought back so many memories of my son Oscar’s case. Oscar’s last picture in his cellphone was of the officer who shot him.” “My name is Wanda Johnson. I’m the mother of Oscar Grant.” “Grant was shot once in the back as he lay face down on the train station’s platform.” “He was unarmed.” “The 27-year-old officer has said he thought he had drawn his Taser gun —” “— but accidentally pulled out his handgun instead.” “And the incident was captured on cellphone video.” “Video speaks for themselves. And the jury will see that and make the correct decision.” “We knew that we would have a very hard time winning in the court systems because the judicial system was not made for everyone in the society.” “As the situation went on, the crowd began to grow and grow.” “Oh my goodness, the same playbook that they used for what happened with Oscar, they used the same thing for George Floyd. Oh, there was a crowd of angry mob people.” “They were behind them. There were people across the street, people yelling.” “We don’t know if they were going to attack us. I thought about the young man testifying in George Floyd’s case.” “You grew angrier and angrier.” “Calling the police on the police.” “911, what’s the address of the emergency?” “How do you have somebody investigate those that they work with? Of course you’re going to find that they’re going to believe the people that they work with quicker than they will believe the citizens who are filing the complaint.” “Would you like to speak with those sergeants?” “Yeah, I’d like to. He was unresponsive. He wasn’t resisting arrest or any of this.” “OK, one second.” “Murderers, bro. Y’all are just murderers, bro.” “You know, when we was going to jury trial for Oscar, they would ask questions like, ‘Do you know anybody who went to jail? Do you know anybody who had an encounter with the police?’ And as soon as the person said that, they would strike them from being a juror, right? Having a jury that consists of different backgrounds, it could help with the decision-making of innocent or guilty.” “The 27-year-old officer —” “— pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.” “His trial had been moved to Los Angeles over concerns of racial tension and intense media scrutiny.” “Everybody, let’s just pray for one minute.” “Father God, we come to you and your son named Jesus Christ. Father, we ask the people that see this —” “Every time I come to my mom’s house, I’m reminded that my son was killed here.” “My name is Sequette Clark. I’m the mother of Stephon Clark.” “22-year-old Stephon Clark was fatally shot while running from police.” “Clark was see evading authorities after allegedly smashing a car window.” “He was shot eight times in his grandmother’s backyard.” “Police apparently thinking he was holding a gun, now say it was a cellphone.” “Out of fear for their own lives, they fired their service weapon.” “And following the incident, officers manually muted their body cameras at times.” “Move over this way.” “As we watched the George Floyd trial, I invited particular members of my family because you can’t address something in the community or the city or the nation until you address it at home with the family.” “When Mr. Floyd was in distress, Mr. Chauvin wouldn’t help him, didn’t help him.” “So that’s just how they left my boy out there. They handcuffed him after he was dead.” “Excessive force.” “Excessive force and lethal force after the fact of death. I felt saddened, heavy, drained. I felt as if I was a slave 400 years ago. Just hearing how he was dead, seeing how he was dead. And then to turn around and hear the defense’s attempt to bring up the fact that we should not focus on the —” “— 9 minutes and 29 seconds —” “— that it took to kill George Floyd. But we should focus on what went on ahead of that. Anything that does not deal directly with the murder of George Floyd is irrelevant in my opinion.” “He’s 6 to 6 and a half feet tall. You did not know that he had taken heroin. Mr. Floyd did use a counterfeit $20 bill to purchase a pack of cigarettes. Mr. Floyd put drugs in his mouth.” “Poppa’s already dead. George Floyd is already dead.” “That’s right. That’s right.” “So now you’re resurrecting him just to kill him all over again.” “Basically.” “Defame him in order to justify the wrongdoing of your officers, reminded me exactly of what the district attorney did to Stephon.” “The cellphone examination revealed a domestic violence incident that happened with the mother of his children. Texts and phone calls showing that he was seeking drugs and a photograph of his hand holding 10 Xanax pills.” “What was on his cellphone has zero to do with the actions of the police officers at the time of his homicide. I feel like it’s a bittersweet thing that’s happening watching the George Floyd trial. Because I’m optimistic that this is a piece of justice for the death of my son.” “We might not be here. They’re going to get him. They’re going to get him.” “Was a crime committed? The answer to that question is no. And as a result, we will not charge these officers with any criminal liability related to the shooting death or the use of force of Stephon Clark.” “April 14, 1991: King fights emotional and physical scars. So this is basically a photo album book of my dad’s newspaper articles since he’s been in the news. Years and years and years. You throw someone to the wolves and you expect them to be normal. You know, there’s no such thing as normal after that. And then, can you imagine how many Rodney Kings there is that never got videotaped? There’s plenty of them.” “I would have prayed and hoped that Oscar’s trial would have been televised because America has to really look in the mirror and say, ‘Are all people being treated equally?’” “There was excessive use of force against George Floyd —” “We’re not focused on the videotape, his toxicology, his heart condition. We’re focused on the fact that several people witnessed this man get murdered.” “You can see it with our own eyes. It’s crazy.” “People don’t realize what it does to your family. It’s bigger than just a trial and this officer. We never get to see them again. We never get to smell them again and kiss them again. Our lives are completely affected forever.” The murder trial of Derek Chauvin is at the center of a national reckoning on race and policing. But cycles of protests over systemic racism and policing are not new. We watched the trial with the families of Rodney King, Oscar Grant and Stephon Clark to see this moment in history through their eyes.“They’re a good family, and they’re calling for peace and tranquillity, no matter what that verdict is. I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict.” The evidence “is overwhelming in my view,” Mr. Biden said, adding that most of the conversation focused on “personal things.” The president quickly defended his decision to weigh in on an unresolved trial, saying he thought it was appropriate to do so because all the evidence had been presented and the jury would not hear his remarks. “I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now,” he added, following a meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Later, Mr. Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, brushed aside suggestions that the president’s comments undermined an independent judiciary, but she did not clarify what he meant by calling for “the right” verdict. “I don’t think he would see it as weighing in on the verdict,” she told reporters during her daily briefing. “He was conveying what many people are feeling across the country, which is compassion for the family.” Ms. Psaki said Mr. Biden, who flew to Houston to console Mr. Floyd’s family before his funeral last June, had been speaking from his “heart” and would have further comment on the trial once the verdict had been rendered. Mr. Floyd’s family discussed the president’s call during a television appearance earlier in the day. “He was just calling,” Philonise Floyd, Mr. Floyd’s brother, told NBC’s “Today” show early Tuesday, a day after the Chauvin jury had retired to consider the verdict. “He knows how it is to lose a family member, and he knows the process of what we’re going through,” he continued. “So he was just letting us know that he was praying for us, hoping that everything will come out to be OK.” Shortly after video circulated last May showing Mr. Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, Mr. Biden expressed sympathy with the family and called Mr. Floyd’s death an example of an “ingrained systemic cycle of injustice” that plagued the country. “George Floyd’s life matters,” Mr. Biden said during a livestream with supporters at the time. “It mattered as much as mine. It matters as much as anyone’s in this country. At least it should have.” Emergent Biosolutions in Baltimore this month.Credit...Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock A congressional panel has opened an investigation into Emergent BioSolutions, the company whose Baltimore factory ruined millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, focusing on whether it was improperly awarded a $628 million federal contract to manufacture vaccines. The inquiry will look into whether a Trump administration official steered the work to the company despite questions about its qualifications, according to a statement released late Monday. The investigation was announced by Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat who heads the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and James E. Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina who heads a subcommittee on the pandemic response. Mr. Clyburn requested that Emergent’s two top executives testify at a May 19 hearing and provide a wide array of records. “Specifically, we are investigating reports that Emergent received multimillion-dollar contracts to manufacture coronavirus vaccines despite a long, documented history of inadequately trained staff and quality control issues,” the statement said. It also said the company had “a track record of raising prices and failing to meet contract requirements.” The committees said they were also looking into Emergent’s “actions to unduly influence anthrax vaccine assets” in the Strategic National Stockpile, the subject of a New York Times article last month. The congressional inquiry is the latest in a series of problems for Emergent, a longtime federal contractor that has a reputation for aggressive lobbying tactics. This month, the Food and Drug Administration began an audit of its factory in southeastern Baltimore after workers contaminated a batch of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine with an ingredient for AstraZeneca’s vaccine, another product manufactured at the plant. Emergent said on Monday that it had suspended operations at the plant and acknowledged that it needed to make improvements to “restore confidence” in its work. It also said it was quarantining the vaccine substance already produced at the plant until after the inspection ends and the company has had a chance to fix any problems highlighted in the review. Biden administration officials have said that AstraZeneca’s vaccine will no longer be manufactured at the plant, and Johnson & Johnson has vowed to exert stronger control over Emergent, its subcontractor. The F.D.A. has not certified the facility to distribute any vaccine to the public; all Johnson & Johnson doses that have been administered were manufactured overseas. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is not yet authorized in the United States. The New York Times reported this month that confidential audits and internal documents showed that Emergent had failed to follow some basic industry standards and identified repeated shortcomings in efforts to prevent contamination. Those records were among the documents that congressional investigators are now seeking. The inspections flagged a persistent problem with mold in areas required to be kept clean, poor disinfection of some plant equipment, repeated use of raw materials that were not fully tested and inadequate training of employees. In one month, they indicate, workers making AstraZeneca’s vaccine deviated from manufacturing standards an average of over three times a day. The Emergent Baltimore facility is one of two federally designated “Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing,” created during the Obama administration, that were supposed to be at the ready in case of a pandemic. The company secured a $628 million contract to manufacture the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines in June. The congressional lawmakers said that Dr. Robert Kadlec, who served as assistant health secretary for preparedness and response under President Donald J. Trump and previously worked as a consultant for Emergent, “appears to have pushed for this award despite indications that Emergent did not have the ability to reliably fulfill the contract.” In an interview Tuesday, Dr. Kadlec said that his consulting work for Emergent in 2013 and 2014 involved educating leaders in South Korea and Saudi Arabia about the risks of bioterrorism, and that he did not promote the company’s products. He said that when he awarded the company the contract in June, he was exercising an option on an earlier contract awarded in 2012 by his predecessor. Dr. Kadlec he said that he knew Emergent was a risky choice, but that federal officials had turned to Emergent because few companies based in the United States were able to make the type of vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, and because the government already had a contract with the company. He said he also sought to involve Merck, a more experienced manufacturer, but those negotiations did not work out. “That was the path of fastest action, but we recognized that there were going to be inherent risks with that approach,” he said of working with Emergent, “and we would try to mitigate those risks throughout.” Former President George W. Bush speaking in Atlanta in July.Credit...Pool photo by Alyssa Pointer Former President George W. Bush, whose push for immigration reform and the invasion of Iraq spurred a backlash that helped lead to the rise of Donald J. Trump, is not happy with the current state of the Republican Party. “I would describe it as isolationist, protectionist and, to a certain extent, nativist,” Mr. Bush said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show that aired on Tuesday, promoting his new book of paintings and essays honoring immigrants in America. “But I’m just an old guy they put out to pasture — a simple painter,” added the 43rd president, who said he published the book to “elevate” the discourse around immigration. Over the weekend, Mr. Bush called on congressional Republicans to tone down their “harsh rhetoric about immigration” and urged them to enact comprehensive changes, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “The problem with the immigration debate is that one can create a lot of fear,” he told CBS. Mr. Bush has mostly steered clear of political fights after leaving office in 2009 with low approval ratings stemming from the bloody aftermath of his invasion of Iraq. He has been more willing to weigh in after the departure of Mr. Trump, who lashed out at him during the 2016 presidential campaign after suggesting Mr. Bush should have been impeached for invading Iraq. Mr. Trump also attacked Mr. Bush’s brother Jeb, who began the campaign as a top-tier contender for the party’s nomination. Immigration is now the issue that divides them most. Mr. Bush’s support of a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, later adopted in more limited form by 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, proved deeply unpopular with the party’s base — and Mr. Trump took advantage of that political opening by taking a much harder line, including pushing for construction of a border wall. A Reuters poll in March found that 56 percent of Republicans do not favor a path to citizenship, up from 38 percent who held that position early in Mr. Trump’s presidency. Mr. Bush recognized President Biden’s victory on Nov. 8, 2020, among the first high-profile Republicans to do so. And Mr. Biden consulted Mr. Bush and former President Obama before announcing the Sept. 11, 2021, deadline for a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. In the interview on Tuesday, Mr. Bush expressed his disgust at the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters seeking to overthrow the results of the election. “It kind of made me sick — not kind of made me sick, it did make me sick,” he said. “I felt ill. I just couldn’t believe it.” However, the vote to certify the election, which came hours after the riot, confirmed his faith “in the institutional stability of our country,” he added. In his CBS interview, Mr. Bush — who ran hard-edged, highly partisan presidential campaigns — expressed bewilderment at the state of politics today, saying he was “shocked” that people were surprised when he embraced Michelle Obama during John McCain’s funeral in 2018. “Americans are so polarized in their thinking that they can’t imagine a George W. Bush and a Michelle Obama being friends,” he said. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, speaks with U.S. troops while visiting Forward Operating Base Fenty in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, September 9, 2019.Credit...Phil Stewart/Reuters The top American commander in the Middle East said on Tuesday that it would be “extremely difficult” for the United States to watch and counter terrorist threats in Afghanistan like Al Qaeda after American troops leave the country by Sept. 11. The head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., offered the first extensive comments by a top commander about the effect of President Biden’s decision to withdraw more than 2,500 American troops from Afghanistan. Mr. Biden rejected the advice of top Pentagon and military advisers to keep a small force in place. Among the major challenges once troops have left will be how to track and potentially attack militant groups in Afghanistan, a landlocked nation far from any major American base. General McKenzie said the administration was discussing with other countries where it could reposition forces to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a terrorist base. Possibilities in the region include Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, but those countries are under the sway of Russia to one degree or another, and the sanctions the administration imposed on Moscow last week complicates any such discussions, diplomats and military officials said. Attack planes aboard aircraft carriers and long-range bombers flying from land bases along the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and even in the United States could strike insurgent fighters spotted by armed surveillance drones. But the long distances are costly and riskier. “It’s going to be extremely difficult to do, but it is not impossible,” General McKenzie said under questioning from both Democrats and Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee. General McKenzie told lawmakers that he was working on a detailed set of alternatives that he would deliver to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III by month’s end. But he underscored what Mr. Biden’s top intelligence officials have already warned: Without boots on the ground or armed surveillance drones just minutes away, the United States will have far fewer human or electronic eyes and ears focused on extremist threats in Afghanistan. “The intelligence will decline,” General McKenzie said, “but we’re going to be able to continue to look into Afghanistan.” Voters waiting in line to vote in November in Largo, Fla. Republicans did well in the state last year, but have pressed ahead in the state’s Legislature with new voting restrictions.Credit...Eve Edelheit for The New York Times A bill that would impose a host of new restrictions on voting in Florida passed a key committee in the State Senate on Tuesday after a fiery debate among senators and hours of citizen testimony opposing the measure. The vote set the stage for a possible full floor vote in the Republican-controlled chamber in the coming weeks. The bill, known as S.B. 90, had significantly been revised last week by Dennis K. Baxley, the Republican state senator who introduced it, to roll back some of the more strident restrictions in the original bill, like banning drop boxes. It passed the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday along a mostly party-line vote, with one Republican member of the committee, Jeff Brandes, voting against it. The measure also bars outside groups from giving water to voters within 150 feet of a voting location; adds more identification requirements for absentee ballots; requires voters to request an absentee ballot every election rather than be on an absentee voting list; limits who can collect and drop off ballots; and empowers partisan observers during the ballot tabulating process. Florida, a major political battleground, is one of a number of Republican-controlled states, including Georgia, Texas and Arizona, that have marched forward with new bills seeking to limit access to voting. A solar equipment factory in China’s Jiangxi Province in January. China’s hold over the global solar sector has its roots in the late 2000s, when Beijing began pumping vast amounts of money into solar technology.Credit...CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press The Biden administration faces a tough choice as it looks to expand the use of solar power to reduce the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions. The dilemma stems from an uncomfortable reality: China dominates the global supply chain for solar power, producing the vast majority of the materials and parts for solar panels that the United States relies on for clean energy. And there is emerging evidence that some of China’s biggest solar companies have worked with the Chinese government to absorb minority workers in the far western region of Xinjiang, programs often seen as a red flag for potential forced labor and human rights abuses. This week, Mr. Biden is inviting world leaders to a climate summit in Washington, where he is expected to unveil an ambitious plan for cutting America’s emissions over the next decade. The administration is already eyeing a goal of generating 100 percent of the nation’s electricity from carbon-free sources such as solar, wind or nuclear power by 2035, up from only 40 percent last year. To meet that target, the United States may need to more than double its annual pace of solar installations. That is likely to be an economic boon to China, since the United States still relies almost entirely on Chinese manufacturers for low-cost solar modules. China also supplies many of the key components in solar panels, including more than 80 percent of the world’s polysilicon, a raw material that most solar panels use to absorb energy from sunlight. Nearly half of the global supply comes from Xinjiang alone. The administration is increasingly under pressure from influential supporters not to turn a blind eye to potential human rights abuses in order to achieve its climate goals. “As the U.S. seeks to address climate change, we must not allow the Chinese Communist Party to use forced labor to meet our nation’s needs,” Richard L. Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., wrote in a letter on March 12 urging the Biden administration to block imports of solar products containing polysilicon from the Xinjiang region. Journalists watch a screen showing China's president, Xi Jinping, delivering a speech during the opening of the Boao Forum on Tuesday.Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, called for cooperation and openness to an audience of business and financial leaders on Tuesday. He also had some warnings, presumably for the United States. Speaking electronically to a largely virtual audience at China’s annual Boao Forum, Mr. Xi warned that the world should not allow “unilateralism pursued by certain countries to set the pace for the whole world.” The audience included American business leaders including Tim Cook of Apple and Elon Musk of Tesla, as well as two Wall Street financiers, Ray Dalio and Stephen Schwarzman. Long a platform for China to show off its economic prowess and leadership, the Boao Forum is held annually on the southern Chinese island of Hainan. (Last year’s was canceled amid the pandemic.) In recent years, Mr. Xi has used the forum to portray himself as an advocate of free trade and globalization, calling for openness even as many in the global business community have become increasingly vocal about growing restrictions in China’s own domestic market. On Tuesday, he also reiterated his earlier message opposing efforts by countries to weaken their economic interdependence with China. “Attempts to ‘erect walls’ or ‘decouple’” would “hurt others’ interests without benefiting oneself,” Mr. Xi said, in what appeared to be a reference to the United States and the Biden administration’s plans to support domestic high-tech manufacturing in the United States. The White House held a meeting with business executives last week to discuss a global chip shortage and plan for semiconductor “supply chain resilience.” Speaking to executives from Google, Intel and Samsung, Mr. Biden said “China and the rest of the world is not waiting, and there’s no reason why Americans should wait.” China is pursuing its own program for self-sufficiency in chip manufacturing. Mr. Xi also pledged to continue to open the Chinese economy for foreign businesses, a promise that big Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have clung to even as foreign executives complain that the broader business landscape has become more challenging. Walter F. Mondale in 1983. “My whole life, I worked on the idea that government can be an instrument for social progress,” he said in 2010. “We need that progress. Fairness requires it.”Credit...George Tames/The New York Times Walter F. Mondale, the former vice president and champion of liberal politics, activist government and civil rights who ran as the Democratic candidate for president in 1984, losing to President Ronald Reagan in a landslide, died on Monday at his home in Minneapolis. He was 93. Kathy Tunheim, a spokeswoman for the family, announced the death. She did not specify a cause. But Mr. Mondale was prepared for the end. Over the weekend he spoke for the last time with former President Jimmy Carter, under whom he served; with President Biden and his wife, Jill Biden; and with Vice President Kamala Harris. And he sent a farewell email to his former staff members. A son of a minister of modest means, Fritz Mondale, as he was widely known, led a rich public life that began in Minnesota under the tutelage of his state’s progressive pathfinder, Hubert H. Humphrey. He achieved his own historic firsts, especially with his selection of Representative Geraldine A. Ferraro of New York as his running mate in 1984, the first woman to seek the vice presidency on a major national ticket. Under President Carter, from 1977 to 1981, Mr. Mondale was the first vice president to serve as a genuine partner of a president, with full access to intelligence briefings, a weekly lunch with Mr. Carter, his own office near the president’s and his own staff integrated with Mr. Carter’s. “Fritz used his political skill and personal integrity to transform the vice presidency into a dynamic, policy-driving force that had never been seen before,” Mr. Carter said in a statement on Monday night, expressing grief over the passing of “my dear friend.” President Biden said in his own message of condolence that when then-Senator Barack Obama asked him to consider running for vice president alongside him in 2008, “Fritz was my first call and trusted guide.” He said that Mr. Mondale’s redefining the vice presidency “as a full partnership” had “helped provide a model for my service.” And he noted that Mr. Mondale “was the first presidential nominee of either party to select a woman as his running mate, and I know how pleased he was to be able to see Kamala Harris become vice president.” The single biggest spender on federal campaigns from 2009 to 2020 was Michael R. Bloomberg.Credit...Chang W. Lee/The New York Times A dozen megadonors and their spouses contributed a combined $3.4 billion to federal candidates and political groups since 2009, accounting for nearly one out of every 13 dollars raised, according to a new report. The report, produced by Issue One, a nonpartisan group that seeks to reduce the influence of money in politics, shows the top 12 donors split equally between six Democrats and six Republicans. The list includes multiple Wall Street billionaires and investors, a Facebook co-founder, a shipping magnate and the heir to a family fortune dating back to the Gilded Age. The study quantifies the intensifying concentration and increasing role of the super rich in American politics following the loosening of restrictions on political spending by the U.S. Supreme Court more than a decade ago. “This is a stark illustration of our broken campaign finance system,” said Nick Penniman, the founder and chief executive of Issue One. “Today, a handful of megadonors wield outsized influence in our politics.” The single biggest spender on federal campaigns from 2009 to 2020 was Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, who spent $1.4 billion. Of that, $1 billion went toward his own failed campaign for president in 2020 and $314 million went to other federal candidates, super PACs and political groups. He is the only donor to spent more than $1 billion. The No. 2 contributor is another Democrat, Tom Steyer, who, like Mr. Bloomberg, lost his bid for president in 2020. Mr. Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, have spent $653 million, with more than half going toward his own presidential campaign and $311 million to other federal candidates and committees. The largest Republican contributor was Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, and his wife, Miriam Adelson, a physician. The Adelsons have contributed $523 million to Republican candidates and committees since 2009. Mr. Adelson’s death in January 2021, at age 87, leaves a potential major shortfall for Republicans who have come to rely upon his largess.