Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, D-N.Y., slammed President Joe Biden’s appointment of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to serve as ambassador to Japan as “shameful,” citing his handling of the 2014 murder of Laquan McDonald.
“This nomination is deeply shameful,” Ocasio–Cortez said in a statement.
“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,” she continued. “This alone should be flatly disqualifying for any position of public trust, let alone representing the United States as an ambassador.”
The 17-year-old McDonald was killed in a Chicago police shooting while Emanuel was the city’s mayor. The police officer involved in the shooting was convicted of second-degree murder after a judge ordered Emanuel to release police footage proving the teenager was not threatening the officer. Emanuel denied that he tried to cover up the shooting.
Ocasio–Cortez, however, urged the Senate to spike Emanuel’s nomination, arguing Biden’s attempt 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.”
It is unclear what specific qualifications Emanuel has for the ambassador job, apart from being a former chief of staff during the Barack Obama administration. He would be one of several top Obama advisers extending their reach into the Biden administration, even as their ringleader remains largely off-radar.
Emanuel’s tenure as Chicago mayor was marred by the skyrocketing crime rate that led him to abandon hopes of re-election.
The problem has continued to escalate, however, under current mayor Lori Lightfoot, despite her having embraced the “defund the police” policies and woke social-justice attitudes advanced by radical Marxists like the “Squad.”
Another congressional leftist, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., echoed Ocasio–Cortez’s concerns and said Emanuel’s nomination was “the last thing we needed to see at the end of this tragic week.”
“When elected officials use their power against [b]lack lives, they should not receive this honor. We still remember Laquan McDonald,” Bowman said.
Even the Japanese government was opposed to Emanuel’s nomination, according to Newsmax.
“This is a confusing pick for the Japanese,” a source close to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the outlet. “Rahm has numerous strengths, but diplomacy is not in his toolkit.”
Moreover, the source worried Emanuel, with his propensity for outbursts and confrontation, would offend the Japanese.
“His reputation precedes him. The Japanese are gracious to a fault and understated. Rahm is neither. This has definitely caused some head-scratching in Tokyo,” the source said.
Among Emanuel’s most dubious distinctions is his quip “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”
That philosophy could bear out in the Pacific as Japan becomes the first line of defense against an emboldened China over Taiwanese sovereignty.
What remains unclear is whether the Biden administration would stand with Taiwan or sell it out to the Communist Chinese Party.
However, having a trusted member of Team Obama on the scene makes clear what the Biden administration considered to be the right qualifications—and offers some hints as to where Biden’s diplomatic priorities may lie.
Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.