01 amy klobuchar campaign rally
CNN  — 

On Wednesday afternoon, the news broke that all four police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd would be charged, with the man who knelt on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, having his count upgraded to second-degree murder.

Who broke that news to (most of) the country and the world? Amy Klobuchar, weirdly.

At 1:57 p.m. ET, the Minnesota senator tweeted this:

“Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is increasing charges against Derek Chauvin to 2nd degree in George Floyd’s murder and also charging other 3 officers. This is another important step for justice.”

Soon after, Ellison publicly announced the charges.

Speculation immediately began that Klobuchar somehow had inside information and had let it slip too soon. Her spokeswoman insisted that the tweet was “based on the news Stephen Montemayor and Chao Xiong at the Star Tribune broke earlier today” and that the senator had no special pipeline to the news. But Klobuchar’s tweet went viral on Twitter, as people and news outlets, including CNN, cited her for breaking the news.

Montemayor tweeted out the news at 1:50 p.m., seven minutes before Klobuchar. The confusion online as to where Klobuchar got her information seems to be because she didn’t attribute her information to the Star Tribune in her tweet.

Regardless, what the tempest in a teapot revealed is just how much Klobuchar is fighting to keep herself in contention to be Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick – even as questions about her time as the lead prosecutor in Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, surface in connection to Floyd’s death at the hands of the police.

As the Star Tribune’s Jessie Van Berkel wrote recently of questions surrounding Klobuchar’s time as Hennepin County prosecutor:

“The Floyd case has put the national spotlight back on Klobuchar’s days as a prosecutor, particularly as it became clear Derek Chauvin, the officer involved in Floyd’s death, was involved in the death of another citizen while Klobuchar was prosecutor. Chauvin was one of six officers who fired on and killed Wayne Reyes in 2006 after Reyes reportedly aimed a shotgun at police after stabbing his friend and girlfriend. While the death happened during Klobuchar’s tenure at the helm of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, the case did not go to a grand jury until after she left the office and became a senator.

“Klobuchar did not criminally charge other police involved in the more than two dozen officer-involved fatalities that occurred during her time as prosecutor. She left those decisions to a grand jury, a practice that was common at the time.”

Klobuchar has pushed back hard on the idea that she was soft on the police – and Chauvin particularly.

“This idea that I somehow declined a case, which has been reported on some news blogs and then set out on the internet, against this officer is absolutely false,” she said on MSNBC. “It is a lie. I don’t know what else to say about it, than it is a lie. … I never declined the case, it was handled and sent to the grand jury by my successor, and he has said that. His office had said that it was not my place to make the decisions because the decisions were made when I was in the US Senate.”

But the damage appears to be done. Despite Klobuchar’s transparent efforts in recent days to be absolutely and totally leading the charge against the officers – the Wednesday tweet being the most obvious example – it appears as though the tide has very much turned against her when it comes to the veepstakes.

Perhaps the most damning moment for Klobuchar’s national-ticket hopes came last Friday, when South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn said this in a call with reporters: “We are all victims sometimes of timing, and some of us benefit tremendously from timing. This is very tough timing for Amy Klobuchar, who I respect very much.”

Gut punch.

Especially when you remember that Clyburn, more than any other single individual, is responsible for Biden being the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The Democratic congressman’s endorsement in the days leading up to the February 29 primary wielded huge influence among black voters – 61% of whom backed Biden, delivering a massive and campaign-saving South Carolina primary win.

As I’ve written, Floyd’s death and the protests that have followed – as well as Biden’s “you ain’t black” gaffe – make it increasingly likely that he will pick an African American woman as his running mate.

And even if he doesn’t, it’s very difficult to see how Klobuchar winds up as the choice. Not only because of the smoke that was already surrounding her time as the lead prosecutor in Minneapolis, but also her connection – albeit, as she insists, an unfair one – to the officer who has become the ugly face of police brutality against African Americans in this country.

Timing is everything in politics. And no matter how aggressive she tries to be in the wake of the Floyd murder, Klobuchar likely isn’t going to be able to outrun this – certainly not by the time Biden is set to make up his mind in early August.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly reflect that Klobuchar’s tweet came seven minutes after the Star Tribune had tweeted the information about new charges.