Rahm Emanuel, seeking Senate nod, discusses 2014 police shooting

Rahm Emanuel, President Biden’s candidate for ambassador to Japan, told a Senate committee on Wednesday that he would seize the offensiv...


Rahm Emanuel, President Biden’s candidate for ambassador to Japan, told a Senate committee on Wednesday that he would seize the offensive against China if confirmed – though questions about his conduct as mayor of Chicago put him on the defensive.

The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee took over Mr. Emanuel’s appointment seven years to the day after a white Chicago police officer murdered black teenager Laquan McDonald, sparking weeks of protests and cover-up accusations.

“Not a day or a week has passed in the past seven years that I haven’t thought about it and pondered the assumptions,” Emanuel said when asked about the anniversary. .

Mr Emanuel, 61, highlighted the reforms he instituted after the murder. But he said he underestimated the distrust of his administration among black Chicago residents.

“It is clear to me that these changes were insufficient in terms of mistrust,” he said. “They were on the best marginal. I thought I was addressing the problem, and I clearly missed the level of mistrust and skepticism that was there, and it’s on me.

Mr. Emanuel’s confirmation hearing represented an extraordinary collision of international affairs and a local crisis, as attendees alternated between a geopolitical discussion of the challenges posed by an ascending Beijing and heartbreaking exchanges about police violence against the Black.

The McDonald case is unlikely to create a serious obstacle to Mr. Emanuel’s confirmation, if widespread praise for his appointment is any guide. Senior Democratic officials said they believe his appearance bolstered his already strong chances of passing the committee vote, as expected, in a matter of weeks.

Most Democrats briefly touched on the shooting before moving on to foreign policy. And Mr. Emanuel has received support from senators from both parties, including the committee’s rank Republican, Senator Jim Risch of Idaho.

In fact, it was presented to the committee by Senator Bill Hagerty, Republican of Tennessee and former Ambassador to Japan, who urged members of his party to support the former mayor.

“I intend to give him the bipartisan support that I have been fortunate to receive from this committee,” Hagerty said.

Mr Emanuel, who took a hard line against Beijing as President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff, has presented the bilateral relationship, on numerous occasions, in the context of a larger conflict between a group of countries known as Quad’s name – the United States, Japan, Australia and India – and China.

He began by issuing a stern warning to Chinese leaders, citing military, foreign policy, public health and economic actions during the pandemic that he called provocative.

“I think the world has learned a lot from Covid: we have exposed some of our vulnerabilities, and I think China has been exposed for its venality,” Mr. Emanuel said.

“The region is in desperate need of American leadership,” he added.

His message was surprisingly similar to statements by R. Nicholas Burns, Mr Biden’s candidate for ambassador to China, who appeared before the committee about an hour earlier.

Mr Burns, who has held senior diplomatic posts for the chairmen of both parties, accused China of engaging in unfair trade practices, intimidating its neighbors – especially Taiwan – and “stifling” democracy in Hong Kong . He condemned the treatment of China’s ethnic Uyghur population as “genocide”.

But Mr Burns, who has gone out of his way to praise President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to confront China on trade, offered a sort of national pep talk, warning against overestimating the power of China and an underestimation of American influence.

“The People’s Republic of China is not an Olympian power,” he said. “It is a country of extraordinary strength, but it also has substantial weaknesses and challenges, demographically, economically, politically.”

The rise of China has particularly pissed off Japan, a country with limited armed forces which also relies on the United States – which has based some 50,000 troops there – to protect itself against a bellicose North Korea. Japan has been wary of a shift in American political sentiment, fueled by Mr. Trump’s rhetoric about free allies and billing for U.S. military protection.

As Ambassador, Mr. Emanuel would arrive in Japan at a time of political upheaval, including the surprise departure last year of Shinzo Abe, the oldest prime minister of Japan, due to health concerns.

Mr. Abe’s successor is already set to be replaced by another unknown face, leaving the Biden administration in need of fresh and reliable intelligence on the country’s rulers. The United States has not had a Senate-approved ambassador in Tokyo for more than two years.

From Tokyo’s point of view, Mr. Emanuel’s selection was generally welcome. In September, the English-language Japan Times noted that Mr. Emanuel is “known for his sharp tongue,” but wrote that he was close to Mr. Biden, “providing Tokyo with what might amount to a direct line to the White House. “

Mr. Emanuel is known for his abrasive personality, fierce partisanship and profanity. He appeared to hold his own on Wednesday, but his infamous impatience kicked in from time to time. He wiggled in his chair listening to senators’ opinion and tapped his microphone to make sure it was working just before starting to read his opening statement.

More than anything, the hearing highlighted the tedious preparation of a veteran Washington operator: Mr. Emanuel spent years quietly developing relationships in both parties, and he worked his own appointment with determined focus. (enlisting former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs to prepare him for questioning, according to a person with knowledge of the preparations).

He was particularly careful to approach the McDonald case in a conciliatory, if not entirely apologetic, manner that underscored his commitment to addressing the underlying issues of racial inequality.

But questions about the McDonald case persist, centered on the delayed release of a police dashboard camera video showing the officer, Jason Van Dyke, firing his gun 16 times at Mr McDonald, 17 years, even as the young man lay in the street dying.

Video showed Mr McDonald was carrying a knife, walking and walking away from the officer when he was shot. It was not published for over a year, and only after the intervention of a judge. Critics of Mr. Emanuel have long accused him of dragging his feet.

After the video was made public, the city agreed to pay Mr. McDonald’s family a $ 5 million settlement, and the officer was ultimately convicted of second degree murder.

Mr. Emanuel told the committee he believed it would have been inappropriate for him to intervene in the matter. When “a politician unilaterally makes a decision in the middle of an investigation, you politicize the investigation,” he said.

This did not entirely satisfy Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, who urged him for a more detailed explanation of his actions before President Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, interrupted him for having exceeded the allotted time.

Several prominent progressives, including Representatives Mondaire Jones and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both of New York, and Cori Bush of Missouri, have called on Senate Democrats to reject his nomination for his role in the McDonald case.

“The man who helped cover up his murder is being considered for an ambassadorial post. Rahm Emanuel is not responsible for representing the United States ”, Mr Jones wrote on Twitter early Wednesday.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Rahm Emanuel, seeking Senate nod, discusses 2014 police shooting
Rahm Emanuel, seeking Senate nod, discusses 2014 police shooting
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