President Biden is set to nominate former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the US Ambassador to Japan. Many question the Emanuel nomination in light of his questionable decisions made during his time as Mayor.
During his term, Rahm Emmanuel closed over 50 schools, fired teachers, and was at odds with the Chicago Teacher’s Union. In addition, he was accused of contributing to the city’s mental health crisis when he closed over half of the mental health clinics in the city, mainly on the Southside. Most damaging is his role in the Laquan McDonald murder. In 2014, police murdered 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. His administration withheld the dash-cam footage until a judge ordered its release. The damaging footage showed Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times. The killing made national headlines and caused protests across the city, with many shouting “16 shots and a cover-up”. Officer Van Dyke was sentenced to second-degree murder. Activists and many more liberal politicians believe Rahm was complicit and assisted in the cover-up of McDonald’s murder. His actions were largely criticized, and his approval ratings following the release of the footage plummeted. Rahm Emmanuel decided not to run for an additional term as Mayor.
Rahm Emanuel faces an uphill confirmation battle, particularly from progressive Democrats, like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have been outspoken in their opposition to Emanuel. Earlier in the year, Ocasio-Cortez voiced her opposition of Emanuel in a tweet, saying, “What is so hard to understand about this? Rahm Emanuel helped cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald. Covering up a murder is disqualifying for public leadership…It is shameful and concerning that he is even being considered.”
If confirmed, Rahm Emanuel would assist President Biden’s plan to strengthen relations between the two countries. Rahm Emanuel is no stranger to politics and the inner workings of Washington DC. He served as Barack Obama’s first chief of staff and was an Illinois representative prior. Initially, he was considered for Secretary of Transportation, but ultimately President Biden chose Pete Buttigieg.
President Biden will officially announce his ambassador appointments later this month.
Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on Twitter @DanieSanders20.