Updated Sep 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Progressives call on Senate to reject Rahm Emanuel's ambassador nomination

AOC and Rahm Emanuel

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rahm Emanuel. Photos: Kevin Dietsch (left); Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) and Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-Mo.) urged the Senate on Wednesday to reject Rahm Emanuel's nomination for U.S. ambassador to Japan, accusing the former Chicago mayor of helping "cover up" the murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a police officer in 2014.

Why it matters: Their statements reflect progressives' anger at President Biden's decision to nominate Emanuel, a close ally who also served as President Obama's chief of staff from 2009 to 2010.

Background: The city of Chicago's initial decision to withhold footage of the murder of McDonald, a Black teenager who was shot 16 times by police officer Jason Van Dyke, prompted widespread protests and calls for Emanuel's resignation in 2014.

  • Emanuel refused to resign and ultimately ran for re-election. He fired the police superintendent and appointed a task force to review potential reforms to the department.
  • The Justice Department launched a federal investigation into the Chicago Police Department in 2015 and found that its officers were poorly trained and prone to excessive force.
  • Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to nearly seven years in prison in 2018. That year, Emanuel and Illinois' attorney general agreed on a settlement mandating a series of reforms to the Chicago Police Department.

What they're saying: "This nomination is deeply shameful. As mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel helped cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald — a mere teenager when he was shot 16 times in the back by a Chicago Police Officer," Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement.

  • "This alone should be flatly disqualifying for any position of public trust, let alone representing the United States as an ambassador," she continued.
  • "That the Biden administration seeks to reward Emanuel with an ambassadorship is an embarrassment and betrayal of the values we seek to uphold both within our nation and around the world."
  • "As Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel helped cover up the brutal murder of Laquan McDonald — a Black teenager — by Chicago Police. In any other line of work, that would have rightfully ended his career. He has no business holding any position of public trust, let alone representing our nation on the world stage," Jones and Bush said in a joint statement.
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