Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the third-highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday for comments she made earlier this week suggesting that George Floyd sacrificed himself for justice.

Clyburn, who was standing near Pelosi when she made the remarks, told CNN on Thursday that he understood what the speaker was trying to say and chalked up her phrasing to a mere grammar mix-up.

“I realized what she meant,” said Clyburn. “My goodness. All of us sometimes put the infinitive in the wrong place. It was ‘for having sacrificed your life,’ rather than ‘sacrificing.’ She just used the wrong infinitive, and I wish we all had time to consult our grammar books every time we got ready to speak. We don’t do that.”

“So she meant absolutely nothing by that but exactly what she corrected in her tweet,” he said, adding: “He did sacrifice his life, maybe against his will, but he did.”

Many people were confused by Pelosi’s remarks because she seemed to be suggesting Floyd died willingly, even though Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who pinned down Floyd in the minutes before his death, had just been convicted of second-degree murder for his death.

“Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice,” said Pelosi. “For being there to call out to your mom — how heartbreaking was that — call out for your mom, ‘I can’t breathe.’ But because of you, and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice.”

After the remarks, Pelosi said in a Twitter statement that Floyd should still be alive today — the speaker’s apparent effort to distance herself from the comments she made about Floyd sacrificing his life for justice.

“George Floyd should be alive today. His family’s calls for justice for his murder were heard around the world. He did not die in vain. We must make sure other families don’t suffer the same racism, violence & pain,” said Pelosi.

Pelosi’s “sacrifice” comments were widely criticized.

“You have to imagine Pelosi tried that line out on people around her earlier and they nodded along as if it wasn’t one of the most offensive things they’d ever heard,” tweeted Ryan Grim, Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the Intercept and a contributor to The Young Turks.

“Clearly, this is a poorly constructed line. Floyd didn’t want to ‘sacrifice’ his life,” wrote CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza. “Pelosi’s comment seems to bizarrely suggest that Floyd had some choice in the situation, when in actuality he had zero say or control over whether a police stop would end in his death.”

New York Times reporter Astead Wesley wrote: “Thank you George Floyd…for being murdered?”

“Nancy Pelosi always manages to find a stunning new way to be tone deaf,” tweeted another user.

“What the hell,” tweeted Townhall editor Guy Benson.

“An absolutely bizarre statement from Nancy Pelosi about a man murdered by law enforcement,” said Timmothy Burke.

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