Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was elected to that seat after serving as President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff, reportedly is being considered for a less visible role in the Biden administration, which has ignited a backlash from detractors who point to his actions after the 2014 police killing of a Black teenager in Chicago.
Progressive Democrats scorned reports that Emanuel was being considered by President-elect Joe Biden to become transportation secretary, pointing at what critics say was his role in covering up the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald.
Several Black and Hispanic political leaders who have expressed concern that the Biden administration will pander to moderates and shy away from confronting racial issues head-on viewed Emanuel as a “divisive” choice.
Emanuel served as Obama’s chief of staff during the beginning of his first term but resigned in October 2010 to run for mayor of Chicago.
Dr. Alvin B. Tillery, a political science professor at Northwestern University, pointed out that the conversation about Emanuel has changed in the Black community since he first successfully ran for mayor after having served in Obama’s Cabinet.
“It’s funny how much the conversation about #RahmEmanuel has changed in Black America since he swept to victory in his first term by touting his credentials as @BarackObama’s chief of staff,” he wrote on Twitter, above journalist Jemele Hill’s scathing criticism of the former mayor.
Emanuel has been widely accused of trying to cover up the murder of 17-year-old McDonald, who was gunned down by Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke at the height of the then-Mayor’s re-election campaign.
McDonald, who was holding knife, was shot 16 times. Footage of the shooting was not released until after Emanuel secured a win in the mayoral election. The video showed that McDonald was walking away from officers when he was shot, and Van Dyke was arrested on the same day it was released. He was ultimately found guilty of second-degree murder.
Multiple officers in the Chicago police department had claimed McDonald was walking toward them when shots were fired.
An internal investigation found in 2019 that 16 officers were involved in covering up the shooting.
In 2015, Emanuel said he rejected “the suggestion the videotape of the McDonald shooting was withheld from the public because of the election.”
Crain’s Chicago Business reported Monday that Emanuel is now being considered for the role of US. trade representative, a less visible position.
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voiced her disproval about the possibility of Emanuel being considered for any cabinet position in Biden’s administration, regardless of the role’s visibility.
Congressman-elect Jamaal Bowman of New York also expressed disproval about the possibility of Emanuel serving in the Biden White House.
As controversy swirled amid speculation about Biden’s possible Cabinet picks, Biden transition official Jen Psaki made a statement, saying, “I would encourage people to wait until we’ve made even one announcement about a Cabinet member and certainly more than just a dozen White House names, before they pass judgment.”