Political Wire has a new story just posted on how Amy Klobuchar this morning explained her actions while she was the county DA (I’m quoting Political Wire because the link is to a tweet that doesn’t give as much information):
Said Klobuchar: “When I was county attorney, cases we had involving officer-involved shootings went to a grand jury. I think that was wrong now. It would have been much better if I took responsibility and looked at cases and made a decision myself.”
Fair use prevents me from quoting the rest, but in essence she said that in each case, she brought evidence before a grand jury and they chose not to indict.
Here’s more, from NBC News:
Klobuchar, however, told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Friday that she never declined to prosecute Chauvin. She explained that the investigation into the case began during her tenure but continued into the time during which she’d already been sworn into the Senate and was ultimately handled by her successor.
“This idea that I somehow declined a case … against this officer is absolutely false. It is a lie. I don’t know what else to say about it,” Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar’s minimal involvement in the earlier Chauvin case has been dragged into the limelight now because Chauvin was filmed, and has just been arrested for, rather casually killing George Floyd on Monday. But her past history with Blacks who came to the notice of law enforcement gave her thin connection to Chauvin more attention than it might have otherwise. Here is a story from January about the NAACP calling on Klobuchar to drop out of the presidential race because of her actions in a 2002 case:
As the county DA, Klobuchar led the case against Myon Burrell, who was a teenager at the time and was sentenced to life in prison for the 2002 murder of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards. The AP story revealed that Klobuchar prosecuted Burrell, now 33, despite there being little evidence and even though his co-defendant confessed to the crime and said Burrell wasn’t there.
From yesterday’s Star-Tribune article:
Klobuchar’s presidential bid was marked by an inability to gain inroads with black primary voters while at the same time facing criticism from civil rights activists attacking her decisions not to prosecute any of the officers in a string of police-involved fatalities when she was Hennepin County attorney.
Klobuchar has condemned Floyd’s death and called for justice. But the incident, and the unrest seen nationwide, also has increased pressure on Biden to balance the Democratic ticket with a running mate closer to the activist base of the party.
Yesterday I posted a rather intemperate diary, No Way Can Biden Choose Klobuchar After Floyd Murder, following initial stories that suggested a close link between Klobuchar and Chauvin. I blew the story out of proportion, and that was a mistake. (I have not deleted the diary, because there was a lot of argument back and forth and in all other directions, and that should stay on the record.) That said, I still find Klobuchar’s overall record as a prosecutor where the police are involved to be troubling, as well as the Burrell case. (Full disclosure: I did support her briefly in 2019.)
I am a little more convinced now than I was before that she has shown she can learn from past mistakes, and if she were otherwise the best candidate for the VP slot, I would say that it would be worth expending the political capital to fix her reputation and repair her relationship with the AA community (which is not all negative, either).
However, there are better candidates for Biden to choose from, and he should. It would be rude of him to openly drop her from consideration now, and Biden, while he can be careless and impulsive, is rarely outright rude. (Except to Trump, who more than deserves it.) Biden is in a position now to lead the country forward as it confronts and heals from its racism past and present. That, as much as his leadership on the pandemic, on our diplomacy, on the economy, is why he is, I now feel, the right person for this moment. I’m not saying he needs to pick a Black VP — though he will in all events need a racially diverse cabinet that reflects all of America. But I am saying that I don’t believe Klobuchar is going to be the best person to help him in that healing.