By Naomi Lim
President Joe Biden is at loggerheads with far-left Democrats again, this time over his nomination of Rahm Emanuel to become the next U.S. ambassador to Japan.
As Biden tries to paper over the gulf between progressive and centrist Democrats regarding his trillion-dollar infrastructure, social welfare, and climate spending proposals, Emanuel is the far Left’s latest gripe with the White House. And while some Republicans agree with the Emanuel criticism, others may salvage his confirmation.
FURTHER SETBACKS COULD CEMENT VOTER DISENCHANTMENT WITH BIDEN
Some Democrats, Chicago residents, and black leaders across the country are adamant Emanuel’s handling of a police shooting involving a black teenager while he was the Windy City’s mayor is “disqualifying,” according to Republican National Committee spokesman Paris Dennard.
Biden does not need to listen to Republican opposition. His own party is against his ambassadorial pick showing even more disarray within the Democratic Party,” the RNC’s black media affairs director said.
And those complaints are hanging over Emanuel’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Wednesday, the seventh anniversary of Laquan McDonald, 17, being shot 16 times as he ran away from police while holding a knife.
The White House could not provide specifics concerning its congressional outreach efforts on behalf of Emanuel, but an aide told the Washington Examiner it was “safe to assume the mayor has been meeting with senators as part of the process.”
Press secretary Jen Psaki was needled Tuesday on whether Biden and Emanuel had spoken about McDonald’s death. Psaki could not detail their discussions but said the president was “obviously” familiar with Emanuel’s “long-standing” record prior to tapping him. She also pointed reporters to Biden’s own comments about McDonald’s case.
Psaki insisted on Tuesday that criminal justice reform is still important to Biden, despite nominating Emanuel and bipartisan lawmaker negotiations on the issue collapsing last month, when asked about backlash from groups such as the NAACP and liberal Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Mondaire Jones of New York, as well as Cori Bush of Missouri. House members do not consider executive government appointments.
“The president’s record, commitment to police reform speaks for itself,” Psaki said. “It is something he would like to get done. He would like to sign it into law. It is far overdue, and it is a priority for him in his administration.”
Some Republicans oppose Emanuel for a range of reasons, including his attempt to make Chi-town “the most China-friendly city in the world.” And now they find themselves oddly aligned with the far Left.
Biden is thumbing liberals in the eye “so he can reward a prestigious ambassadorship to political ally and old friend,” according to America Rising spokesman Joe Gierut
“Once again, the White House’s judgment comes into question as they bumble their way through multiple crises that have tanked the president’s approvals and put his entire agenda into question,” he said.
But others, such as Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, endorse Emanuel, helping supportive Democrats reach the 51-vote threshold they require to confirm him as the top U.S. envoy to Japan. Normally outspoken Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are yet to weigh in on Emanuel.
Emanuel was a three-term Illinois congressman with a reputation for a temper when he left Capitol Hill to become former President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff for his first year in office. But the former Bill Clinton aide and investment banker announced in 2018 that he would not run for a third stint as Chicago mayor the following year after blowback from McDonald’s death.
Emanuel’s administration declined to release police dashcam footage of McDonald’s 2014 death until a court ordered it to do so in 2015, more than a year after the shooting and following Emanuel’s reelection. The video prompted weekslong protests, calls for Emanuel’s resignation, and a federal investigation, but was preceded by McDonald’s family receiving a $5 million settlement from the city. Emanuel later apologized for his response, and Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot McDonald, was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison for second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated assault.
Emanuel is emphasizing his work with Chicago’s black community as he turns on the charm with undecided senators in order to persuade them to back him. References, including Rev. Martin Hunter, McDonald’s great uncle, have written to the committee, too, arguing Emanuel “inherited a deeply flawed system.”
“I am a man of faith. I believe in what the scripture says about righteous judgment and looking into a person’s heart. I have taken the time to get to know Rahm Emanuel. We have listened to each other, truly heard each other. I understand the character of the man and that is why I support this nomination,” Hunter wrote .
Emanuel is seeking a plum post as the United States and Japan rebuild relations after former President Donald Trump and collaborate on diplomatic and military problems posed by nearby China and North Korea.
The White House has so far withdrawn two controversial executive branch choices, Neera Tanden for Office of Management and Budget director and David Chipman for Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives director.