According to court documents obtained by Radar, The Office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison denies contributing to the article.
In February, NY Times broke a story about a plea deal Chauvin hashed out with prosecutors. Per the deal, Chauvin reportedly agreed to plead to third-degree murder.
The deal was allegedly shut down by the Department of Justice. The then-Attorney General William Barr believed the deal was too lenient.
Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over Chauvin’s trial, believed the leak was dangerous and could have tainted the jury. He ordered the lawyers working on both sides to submit affidavits under oath on whether they were the source of the leak.
Ellison wrote, “I made no contribution of any kind to the recent New York Times article in which the reporter asserts that Derek Chauvin was willing to plead guilty to third-degree murder in the state court in exchange for an agreement of non-prosecution for federal criminal charges.”
The Attorney General argues the story wasn’t that harmful. He says the idea of Chauvin accepting a plea deal admitting guilt had already been published in other outlets.
“No one from the prosecution contributed in any way to the reporting in the story about the alleged plea deal. But the appearance of the story is not surprising. The news business generates news stories.”
Further, he said, “My unequivocal statements in this letter should be sufficient response to the baseless allegations by the defense lawyers, especially in the absence of any evidence whatsoever to support their frivolous claims.”
Recently, Steven L. Schleicher, Special Attorney General from Keith Ellison’s office, submitted an affidavit writing, “I was not the source of the information in the newspaper articles” that spoke about “alleged plea discussions with Defendant Chauvin’s counsel.”
Another associate, Natasha Robinson, also denied being the source of the leak. She said she did not know who had told the outlet about the deal.
The court is still investigating the matter. As Radar previously reported, Chauvin is currently trying to have his murder conviction dismissed. He believed the jury should have been sequestered from the beginning of the trial.
He said they were intimidated into making their decision and had been influenced by third parties. Chauvin is set to be sentenced in June for second-degree murder. He is facing up to 40 years in prison.
The three other officers involved in Floyd's fatal arrest, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao, are attempting to have their charges dismissed ahead of their upcoming trial.