Several key figures in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial have all sworn that they did not leak information to The New York Times about failed plea deal negotiations. The Times reported in February that a plea deal was on the table back in May 2020 but then-Attorney General Bill Barr rejected it. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, Chauvin’s defense lawyer Eric Nelson and five others involved in the trial have filed affidavits to say they did not leak the information. Among them was at least one lawyer involved in the case against the three other officers involved in George Floyd’s death. Nelson’s affidavit included emails showing him declining to comment on the Times’ story. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman wrote a letter insisting no one from his office leaked to the press, but he notably did not sign an affidavit.
In a hearing last week, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill had demanded prosecutors file affidavits after admonishing those involved in the leak and making it clear he believed it came from the Justice Department. He said he was even considering dismissing the case against the three other officers if it turns out prosecutors were the leakers. The Times reported that the plea agreement, which was contingent on the feds not pursuing civil rights charges, was rejected because Barr was worried it would look lenient amid national unrest over police brutality.